Collier County cracking down on undocumented immigrants, pastor claims

Posted at 6:44 PM, Feb 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-09 09:47:54-05

IMMOKALEE, Fla. -- An Immokalee pastor is warning some of his community members as efforts to detain undocumented immigrants strengthens in Collier County.

"That is persecution. That is like an immigrant hunter," said Jose Marin, pastor of CDM church in Immokalee, describing the recent perils of immigrants in Immokalee.

He says undocumented immigrants are being singled out. "It's really a scary sense in the community."

Marin is a first generation legal immigrant from Costa Rica, and resident of the town for nearly 10 years.

Marin claims immigrants, legal and illegal, are being especially targeted and pulled over by police based on how they look.

The Collier County Sheriff's Office denies those allegations. They assure that people shouldn't be worried about being targeted based on their immigration status.

The Collier County Sheriff's Office is one of two county agencies partnering with the federal government to make it a priority to enforce immigration laws.

Marin says his friend was arrested last week.  "He was going to drop his son to the school when he was stopped by the police officer. He was put in jail. Now he's in the deportation line."

Marin also says a member of his church was stopped while walking in a library parking lot.  "Why did the police officer ask for a driver license. She's not driving."

Sheriff Kevin Rambosk defended the program in a statement.  "This program is one of the reasons that Collier County is the safest metropolitan county in Florida."

Rambosk adds the program has resulted in more than 5,000 people detained in Collier County since 2007.

The National Sheriff's Association met with President Donald Trump at the  White House Wednesday to discuss immigration issues across the country and in Southwest Florida.

Marin says the threat of deportation has been a constant for years and started long before Trump began his run for the White House.