As part of a permanent campaign to protest a proposed immigration detention center in South Florida, more than 60 residents and immigrant advocates gathered Saturday to stage the Stations of the Cross.
Residents of Pembroke Pines and the town of Southwest Ranches have voiced opposition to the detention center since Immigration and Customs Enforcement (aka ICE) first announced it had chosen the Southwest Ranches/Corrections Corporation of America proposal in June 2011.
Jose Machado is a 17-year-old high school student who came to the U.S. at the age of 6 and with the support of an attorney has filed for a visa that would allow him to stay and gradually obtain permanent immigration status. Machado told The Florida Independent Saturday that his mother was deported in 2011 after losing her immigration court case. Machado now lives with a cousin, goes to school and works to help pay bills.
Machado opposes the privately managed immigration detention center because “they’re trying to make money from detaining immigrants,” adding that “it symbolizes separation of family, damaging people psychologically and emotionally.”
Denise Schroder — a resident of Southwest Ranches who, with about six other people, was at the event to show her support for the proposed immigration detention center — told the Independent, “I believe it’s a holding place. I don’t believe it’s a prison, where they treat people bad because they’ve done bad things.”
Schroder said it would be good “if the government came up with something” to help immigrants and create a system that would allow them to “pay their fair share.” She also said “there is a right way and wrong way of doing it and coming here illegally is not the right way to do it.”
“I support this because I know it is going to create more jobs, and the revenue that’s coming from it, I want the money for my town,” Schroder said.
The Florida Carpenters Regional Council also supports the detention center, saying it will get “hundreds of people working and off the unemployment rolls.”
In a press release issued Saturday, the Florida Immigrant Coalition announced “the national release of a video by Cuentame.org on the manipulation of our democracy by the for-profit CCA corporation,” and calling on Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Pembroke Pines, to oppose the project:
The release adds that “until now the petition for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Say No to CCA has 4,500 signatures.”
The list of those opposed to the immigration detention center also includes the Broward Sierra Club, which argues that the project would further degrade the gateway to what remains of Broward County’s natural areas.
Photos from Saturday’s protest: