Protesters demonstrating against the Corrections Corporation of America/Southwest Ranches proposal (Pic by Marcos Restrepo)

Residents opposed to a federally-funded, privately-managed immigration detention center in South Florida issued a statement Wednesday calling on President Obama to step in and halt the project.

A press release issued by No Prison in Southwest Ranches states: “Will the President step in and protect the people in this area from a project that has been kept silent by Corrections Corporation of America, LLC through invite-only ‘advisory meetings’ policy of a ‘cone of silence by the Town of Southwest Ranches identified through public records requests and implemented by request of [Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and [Corrections Corporation of America]?”

Bill Di Scipio, a resident of Southwest Ranches and an opponent of the detention center, tells The Florida Independent that he and other residents have created a political action committee, Residents Against Inappropriate Development Inc., that “provides us with the legal means to raise money to defeat the hundreds of thousands of dollars that [Corrections Corporation of America] is now spending to make sure this happens.”

He adds that Corrections Corporation of America (also known as CCA) has recently sent out four different mailers and made two robocalls to residents’ homes.

DiScipio tells the Independent that, come time for the August and November 2012 elections, “we will end up supporting candidates in Southwest Ranches and perhaps on our congressional and senatorial level as well,” adding that the primary goal is to defeat the detention center.

The Florida Independent has reported extensively on the opposition to the immigration detention center set to be built in South Florida since Immigration and Customs Enforcement first announced it had chosen the Southwest Ranches/Corrections Corporation of America proposal in June 2011.

The land where the detention center is set to be built is owned by the Corrections Corporation of America but surrounded by unincorporated Broward county land and the city of Pembroke Pines.

Pembroke Pines officials sent a letter to President Obama earlier this month asking him to intervene, along with a copy of a resolution opposing the detention center.

A CCA detention center facts website details the benefits that residents of Southwest Ranches and Pembroke Pines would receive from the project  – including tax revenue and jobs. According to the site, “Independent studies have shown no correlation between property values and proximity to a detention or corrections facility.”

But Di Scipio says that claim is a lie, citing an FIU/FAU study which “shows a direct correlation of a drop in housing values in the Goodyear, Arizona community situated next to a prison.”

The Florida Carpenters Regional Council recently told the Independent that it is working with CCA to secure the proposed detention center. According to Regional Council spokesman Miguel Fuentes, the project would create hundreds of jobs for local workers. Fuentes told us that he has participated in the robocalls.

The Broward Group of the Sierra Club expressed its opposition to the detention center earlier this month, arguing that it would impact the environment and further degrade what remains of Broward County’s natural areas.

Supporters of the proposal to build the detention center in Southwest Ranches include Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fl., and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fl.

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