Protesters demonstrate against the Corrections Corporation of America facility (Pic by Marcos Restrepo)

A proposal to cancel a contract that obligates the city of Pembroke Pines to supply fire, rescue, water and sewage services to a new privately managed 1,500 bed immigration detention center was defeated in the the city commission Wednesday night.

Pembroke Pines Vice Mayor Iris Siple said at a recent community forum on the detention center that she would ask the city commission to cancel the agreement signed in June because residents were not informed of the obligation to provide water and sewage to the immigration detention center. The facility is set to be built on land owned by the Corrections Corporation of America but surrounded by Pembroke Pines and unincorporated Broward County.

According to a local news broadcast, Wednesday night, “a vote was taken but not to terminate the deal. Instead the commission voted to defer any decision so that any and all residents could be given their chance to have their say.”

Residents of Pembroke Pines and the town of Southwest Ranches have voiced opposition to the federally funded and privately managed detention center since Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced it had chosen the Southwest Ranches/Corrections Corporation of America (commonly known as CCA) proposal in June.

Ryann Greenberg, a resident of Pembroke Pines, tells The Florida Independent commissioners are pushing this issue off to a workshop, but to him “it just seems they are only afraid to get rid of the 14 firefighters jobs that have been hired recently because of the contract.”

She says Police Benevolent Association members and firefighters have said they are not in favor of the detention center but spoke in favor of “keeping the fire and rescue contract intact because of the 14 jobs.” “Nobody is advocating for the people,” Greenberg says.

The Miami Herald reports that Siple told the audience: “What is being proposed now is so wrong for our community. It is not properly located. That area was very different many years ago.”

According to the Herald,

ending the contract will not prevent Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that would build and own the facility, from constructing one of the nation’s largest immigration detention centers, said Keith Poliakoff, town attorney for Southwest Ranches.

“It does nothing,’’ Poliakoff said, noting that the contract would remain in effect for nine months from the date it was terminated.

Just last week several organizations demanded in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security that the immigration detention center comply with National Environmental Policy Act.

CCA Senior Director for Public Affairs Steven Owen wrote to The Florida Independent:

This facility will be built, funded and owned by CCA and not the federal government. As such, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) does not apply. The site has all required permits – including environmental reviews by state and local agencies, and is in an approved industrial park surrounded by industrial development (including a county landfill). The site has no wetlands, no threatened/endangered species and an archeological survey confirmed no cultural issues.

Owens adds: “As a reminder, should ICE decide to contract for detention beds/services in the area, they would do so with the Town of Southwest Ranches. It would then be up to the Town to contract with CCA if they want to use the facility we build on our site to meet any obligations they enter into with ICE.”

According to Detention Watch Network, CCA is the largest private immigration detention contractor in the country, and “spends the most on federal lobbying, totaling $18,002,000 from 1999 to 2009.”

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