Immigrant detention centers are needed to hold detainees awaiting deportation, but not all the residents of areas where the prisons would be built want them around.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced in late June it had “tentatively” selected Southwest Ranches — a town in western Broward County — as the site for its newest detention center. In mid-July, residents of Southwest Ranches protested the proposed construction of the center, which would be run by Corrections Corporation of America, one of the largest private prison companies in the country.
The Miami Herald reports today:
The hot bed issue of immigration now finds itself front-and-center in the 13-square mile suburb of Southwest Ranches.
Plans to build one of the nation’s largest immigration detention centers in the rustic Southwest Broward county town has riled up residents and activists alike.
An overflow crowd of some 70 people showed up at Thursday’s Southwest Ranches Town Council meeting to raise their concerns about the plan to build an 1,800 bed facility along U.S. 27.
The Florida Independent reported that Southwest Ranches and the private prison firm Corrections Corporation of America, which is currently the largest private immigration detention contractor in the county, partnered to bring the proposed immigration detention facility to South Florida.
Corrections Corporation of America manages approximately 75,000 inmates in more than 60 facilities in 19 states and the District of Columbia. It currently manages five facilities in Florida.
The Herald adds: “For immigration activists, green-lighting the facility brings concerns that the federal government is prioritizing the expansion of the country’s detention and deportation programs, and not on passing immigration reform laws that would legalize the status of undocumented immigrants.”
The Florida Immigrant Coalition presented a petition with more than 150 signatures, asking the town to reconsider its involvement in the project.
Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., John Conyers, D-Mich., and Pedro Perluisi, D-P.R., said during a House Judiciary Committee meeting last week that the Obama administration is working to implement prosecutorial discretion and deferred action along with sustained immigration law enforcement at the border. They said the administration is also focusing on the detention and deportation of criminal undocumented immigrants who are a threat to U.S. citizens.
Lofgren said that during the last two years of the Bush administration, the Department of Homeland Security averaged 29,000 grants of deferred action while the current administration has averaged 28,000.
Conyers added that in its first two fiscal years, the Obama administration deported 779,000 people, an 18 percent increase over the last two years of the Bush administration.