ICE Picks Southwest Ranches for New Immigrant Pen

Some lucky folks in western Broward County are going to have a couple of thousand possible illegal immigrants as new neighbors soon.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it has "tentatively selected" Southwest Ranches, along with a private prison company, to build one of the largest joints for immigrants in the country.

ICE had taken in three proposals for the new facility -- one from Southwest Ranches and Corrections Corporation of America, another from Florida City and the GEO Group, and the last being Belle Glade in Palm Beach County, which could have replaced the Glades Correctional Institute.

"ICE has tentatively selected Southwest Ranches to be awarded an Intergovernmental Service Agreement (IGSA) for the operation and management of approximately 1800 beds for immigration detainees," ICE says in a statement. "At this time, ICE and Southwest Ranches continue to work through the details of this tentative selection. If and when a formal selection occurs, the appropriate notifications will be made."

According to documents filed with Broward County, Southwest Ranches' proposed facility would be placed off of Highway 27, toward the edge of the Everglades.

Here's how the Florida Independent described the proposed the facility in Southwest Ranches last month:

Many of the detainees would require lower levels of security and "dormitory"-style detention beds, meaning they are not expected to be dangerous criminals. Corrections Corporation documents describe a "casual atmosphere" that will allow for "detainee movement" and "general relaxation." The people detained in the facility would be able to watch television, do aerobics or play games like soccer, volleyball and dominoes (among other "enhanced indoor and outdoor recreational activities") while they wait for their deportation proceedings to unfold.

Southwest Ranches' filing with the county describes the facility as "non-penal in nature" and would promote a relaxed atmosphere -- whatever that's supposed to mean.

Officials say construction costs for a facility "might be" $100 million to $200 million.

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