For a while, there wasn't much public outcry about Southwest Ranches' proposal to woo the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a for-profit prison contractor, to build an 1,800-bed immigrant detention facility at the edge of the Everglades. Yesterday, immigrants-rights advocates and local residents clustered at the intersection of Griffin and Dykes roads to denounce the town council's efforts to court the facility, as well as the proliferation of for-profit detention.
The planned facility would join several detention centers around the country for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Immigrants awaiting deportation are typically housed in dorm-like settings if they're not violent offenders or in more prison-like conditions if they are. ICE's facilities are generally run by one of the big two private prison contractors, CCA or the Geo Group.
Multiple news organizations were present, as well as various coalitions from around South Florida. The protest was organized by Students Working for Equal Rights and the Florida Immigrant Coalition, which says that the federal government would pay CCA around $89 million to operate the facility.
You'd think the town's residents would be a little stirred up by this proposal, since the place was built as an idyllic pseudorural escape, with large residential lots, many parks, and horse/pedestrian paths.
Oh yeah, it's also home to the Broward Correctional Institution, a 753-bed women's prison that used to house Florida's female death row. Southwest Ranches' far western location and broad reach makes it a convenient place to plop down the facilities most South Floridians would rather pretend don't exist. CCA has owned a large plot of land adjacent to U.S. 27, at the edge of the Everglades, since 1998.
"The town passed a resolution in 2005 saying that the town would get a percentage of what CCA is going to make" on the center, says Diego Sanchez, of Students Working for Equal Rights in Miami. "People who live in this town don't know about this."
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