Debbie Wasserman Schultz's office has confirmed that it received 40 to 50 phone calls yesterday from Pembroke Pines and Southwest Ranches-area residents who were automatically forwarded from a "robocall" they had received.
What did all those unwitting callers have in common? They had indicated support for a proposed immigration detention facility in Southwest Ranches, being proposed by private prison contractor Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).
Reportedly, the events went something like this: Residents near the proposed lockup got a phone call, asking whether they supported the (hotly contested) facility. If they pressed 1 to indicate "yes," they were forwarded to Schultz's Pembroke Pines office.
Local Schultz staffer Jodi Davidson is not able to speak to the media, but her communications director in Washington, D.C., Jonathan Beeton, confirms that the calls were received and that callers indicated they had been forwarded from the automatic survey.
Today, anti-CCA organizer Ryann Greenberg sent an email to Davidson:
After we spoke on the phone earlier about the Robocalls you were receiving in favor of the detention center I was told by a bunch of residents about the content of the Robocalls.
It says something like "This will bring lots of jobs into your area... if you are in favor of the detention center press 1" -- I'm assuming that it is then forwarded to your office.
A question comes to mind that I pose to you now...
Does CCA not take any responsibility to inform the public about the meeting on Sat regarding the huge project they are bringing into our area??
This just screams corporate irresponsibility to me... I guess I should be thanking them since they are kind of proving our point. That they are not a good company to bring into our community.
In addition to claiming that the facility would create jobs, the calls also reportedly referred to it as a "processing center," defusing the more threatening implications of the proposed high-security lockdown.
Beeton, Schultz's spokesman, says that her office has received robocalls in the past opposing the facility too -- and local activists Ryann Greenberg and Bill Di Scipio have said they recorded those themselves.
Do callers forwarded from robocalls have less clout with the congresswoman's office? Nope: "A constituent is a constituent," says Beeton. "Whether they decide to call in themselves or not, we weigh that the same."
A discussion meeting between ICE officials and local residents is scheduled for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Southwest Regional Library in Pembroke Pines. The calls made no mention of that meeting.
Stefan Kamph is a New Times staff writer.
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