Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Angelo Castillo confirmed during a community meeting Saturday that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has agreed to come to South Florida to discuss its proposed immigration detention center with city residents who oppose the project.
Castillo told The Florida Independent that he plans to travel to Washington, D.C., this week to confirm the details of that visit.
Residents of Pembroke Pines and the town of Southwest Ranches who met Saturday to continue organizing their opposition to the federally funded and privately managed detention center also disclosed an April 2011 letter in which Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (both Democrats) state their support for “the application by the Town of Southwest Ranches, Florida, in response to the ‘Request for IGSA Concept Proposal: Miami’ issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” (Read the full letter below.)
Southwest Ranches is partnering with the private prison firm Corrections Corporation of America (commonly known as CCA), the largest private immigration detention contractor in the country. According to Detention Watch Network, CCA “operates a total of 14 [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]-contracted facilities with a total of 14,556 beds. In 2009, CCA averaged a daily population of 6,199 detained immigrants.”
The detention center would be built on land administered by Southwest Ranches and owned by the Corrections Corporation of America, but surrounded by residential areas of Pembroke Pines and unincorporated Broward County.
A document issued in February 2011 by the Broward County Development and Environmental Regulation Division indicates “that at the time the correctional facility was initially approved in 2005,” a Southwest Ranches resolution stipulated that “no maximum-security prisoners will be housed at the facility.”
But the Environmental Regulation Division adds that a CCA white paper, issued in November 2010, “and responses to staff questions indicate that some detainees may now have a criminal history and consequently detainees at the medium and maximum classification may require housing in a more secure area of the facility.”
Bill Di Scippio, a resident of Southwest Ranches, said during the Saturday meeting that there is a “cone of silence on the detention center project, as I was told I don’t have access to my councilman or town commission.”
Last week, in response to residents’ demands to stop the construction of the immigration detention center next to Pembroke Pines, commissioners approved a motion to renegotiate the city’s contract with the town of Southwest Ranches to supply water and sewage to the detention center.
Residents argued they were kept out of these specific June 2011 agreements between Southwest Ranches officials and their city to supply water and sewage.