PolitiFact: Mayor’s claims about immigration detention center ‘mostly false’

By | 11.11.11 | 2:19 pm

Protesters at Saturday's ICE/Corrections Corporation of America community meeting (Pic by Marcos Restrepo)

Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis said at a recent community forum that his city does not have a vote in the decision to build a proposed immigration detention center in his area, but PolitiFact Florida rates his claim “mostly false.”

PolitiFact writes that the town of Southwest Ranches

penned the deal with the prison operator, and Pines didn’t get an up or down vote on whether the facility should be built. But it’s not as if Pines has been in the dark here. Ortis, along with the rest of the commission, voted to provide services to the prison in 2011. We rate this claim Mostly False.

In June, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (aka ICE) selected the Southwest Ranches/Corrections Corporation of America (known as CCA) proposal to build a 1,500 bed immigration detention center. The town of Southwest Ranches is a neighbor to Pembroke Pines.

Residents of Pembroke Pines and the town of Southwest Ranches have voiced opposition to the federally funded and privately managed detention center. Citizens have even called for the resignation of Southwest Ranches Mayor Jeff Nelson, a vocal supporter of the detention center.

PolitiFact writes: “Ortis, first elected as a commissioner in 1996 and mayor in 2004, ingratiated himself with the angry opponents of the prison. But was he correct to state that Pembroke Pines doesn’t have a vote in the project?”

The site adds that while Ortis has been mayor, the city commission of Pembroke Pines has issued key votes on the detention center at least four times from 2005 through 2011.

At one of those commission votes, Ortis voted to approve an agreement in which Pembroke Pines would provide fire department and emergency rescue services as well as water and sewage to the detention center. In October the commission approved a motion to renegotiate that contract.

Pembroke Pines Vice Mayor Iris Siple proposed the motion to renegotiate because residents were not given the chance to discuss language that obligates Pembroke Pines to supply water and sewage to the detention center.

PolitiFact adds that, when asked why Ortis said the city did not have a vote in the approval of the detention center, the mayor “stood by his comments at the meeting and explained that the city of Pembroke Pines doesn’t get a vote on whether the jail facility should be built.”

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