Pembroke Pines city commissioners voted Wednesday night to rescind a contract to supply fire, emergency rescue services, and water and sewage to a proposed federally-funded but privately-run immigration detention center.
Residents of Pembroke Pines and the town of Southwest Ranches have voiced opposition to the detention center since Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) first announced it had chosen the Southwest Ranches/Corrections Corporation of America proposal in June.
“After 4 months, a previously deferred motion to terminate the fire/ems/water inter-local agreement with Southwest Ranches was reintroduced and the result is that the contract was terminated for convenience,” said residents opposed to the immigration detention center.
The Miami Herald reports Thursday that “the vote to cancel the contract was 3-2, with Mayor Frank Ortis and Commissioner Carl Shechter dissenting. Commissioners also voted unanimously to file for a declaratory judgment, which would require a judge to rule once and for all on whether the city is legally required to provide water and sewer service to Southwest Ranches and the proposed detention center.”
Pembroke Pines residents had argued since October that they were kept out of the agreements concerning the supply of fire, emergency rescue services, and water and sewage services to the immigration detention center between Southwest Ranches officials and their city, and demanded those agreements be rescinded.
Pembroke Pines Vice Mayor Iris Siple proposed the motion to renegotiate the contract in October precisely because residents were not given the chance to discuss language that obligated Pembroke Pines to supply water and sewage to the detention center.
Opponents of the immigration detention center issued a statement last week calling on President Obama to step in and halt the project. Those opponents also recently announced the creation of a political action committee, which will raise funds to defeat the Corrections Corporation of America.
The Herald adds that Southwest Ranches Mayor Jeff Nelson, who supports the detention center, said Wednesday “he was not concerned by the Pembroke Pines commission’s actions,” because other municipalities and Broward county could supply fire rescue and other services and “Corrections Corporation of America — the private company bidding to bring the detention center to Southwest Ranches — could build its own well and sewage treatment plant.”
Miguel Fuentes, the political director of the Florida Carpenters Regional Council, recently told The Florida Independent that his organization supports the project because it will “create jobs that are sorely needed.”
Opponents of the project include the Broward Sierra Club, which recently issued a letter arguing that the decision to build the detention center is politically motivated, and would increase water usage and further degrade what remains of Broward County’s natural areas.