Broward News

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Tells Radio Host Her Endorsement of CCA Prison Still Stands

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz wrote a letter (see below) in April to ICE Director Gary Mead indicating her support for the proposed immigrant detention facility that private contractor CCA wants to build in Southwest Ranches.

Today, she went on the radio with WIOD-AM (610) host Jimmy Cefalo. Toward the end of the interview, he passed on a listener's question about whether she would rescind the endorsement in light of increased opposition to the facility. 

She politely said no, repeated the point that the land had been zoned for a jail since before Southwest Ranches took it over, and said all she wants is to let people's opinions be heard.

Audio after the jump. Also: Did Keith Poliakoff write that letter for her?

For the audio, check out a blog maintained by the anti-prison residents who encouraged people to call in for the congresswoman's appearance.

Whether citizens' opinions will have any bearing on the outcome is uncertain. Cefalo pressed Wasserman Schultz to confirm that the thing is basically built at this point, and although she didn't go that far, she didn't indicate any willingness to dispute its approval.

"There are a lot worse impacts that could be built there right now without any approvals at all," she said, echoing a point made to the Pulp earlier by the town's lawyer, Keith Poliakoff.

Wasserman Schultz also referenced that April letter that she wrote, "a cursory letter of support," as she called it. And speaking of Poliakoff, there's strong evidence to suggest that his firm had a heavy hand in drafting an early version of that letter.

See Wasserman Schultz's letter from April 8:

Mr. ___________
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
500 12th Street, S.W. 
Washington D.C., 20536-5705

Re: Statement of Objectives, Request for IGSA Concept Proposal: Miami

I am writing in support of the application submitted by the Town of Southwest Ranches, Broward County, Florida, in response to the Statement of Objectives, Request for IGSA Concept Proposal: Miami, which has been issued  by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE").

The Town of Southwest Ranches' site is an ideal location for a new ICE detention facility.  The site, which is boarded by a maximum security woman's prison, a future Broward County prison, a land fill, the Everglades, and an industrial area, would have no deleterious impacts on the surrounding community.  

The site is boarded by two major arterial roadways including United States Highway Route U.S. 27 and State Road 822, a six lane divided State Roadway commonly known as Sheridan Street.  As such, none of the facilities traffic will impact any local roadways.

This locations meets all of the requirements identified by the Statement of Objects including the fact that it is readily accessible to three international airports, is close to the ICE Field Offices, Krome Detention Center, numerous medical facilities, and is readily accessible via numerous ground transportation options including bus, Amtrak and Tri-Rail, allowing families convenient access to detainees.    

In addition, and most significantly, this nearly $100 million dollar project is one-hundred percent privately funded and will immediately stimulate jobs and economic growth.  Over the next eighteen months the project is estimated to create more than 1,000 full-time construction jobs, and upon completion will directly create 314 full-time staff positions in addition to the countless number of jobs that will be bourn by the ancillary services.

Most significantly, this project will stimulate job growth in South Florida by creating more than 1,000 full-time jobs during the 18-month construction of this facility.  Upon completion, this facility will create 314 full-time staff positions and employ over 300 additional men and women for ancillary services, such as food preparation and laundry services.  

This site, which has been vetted at over nine public meetings, has the unanimous support of the local municipality, and the consent of the neighboring municipality, the City of Pembroke Pines.
I, therefore, respectfully urge you select the Town of Southwest Ranches for ICE's newest Detention Faculty.

Member of Congress

Stefan Kamph is a New Times staff writer.
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Stefan Kamph
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