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Opponents of privately run immigration detention center in Florida say it was kept secret

Pembroke Pines residents who have actively opposed the construction of a privately run immigration detention center in their community now argue they have been kept out of specific agreements between Southwest Ranches officials and their city.

Ryann Greenberg, a resident of Pembroke Pines and a member of Residents Against [Southwest] Ranches Detention Center, tells The Florida Independent that at least 100 people online and 300-plus people off-line are organized to block the detention center.

Southwest Ranches is partnering with the private prison firm Corrections Corporation of America (commonly known as CCA). The company is 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.”

A white paper issued by Southwest Ranches and the company filed with the Broward County government states: “ICE requires approximately 1,500-2,000 new detention beds to meet local demand in the Miami metropolitan area. Ideally, this demand would be met by one 1,000-1,500 bed facility, with the capacity to expand to 2,000 beds.”

According to a release issued by Residents Against SW Ranches Detention Center, the group will attend a Wednesday city commission meeting at which the “Fire & EMS Agreement with Southwest Ranches will be discussed.”

“We want to go to the city commission meeting because they had passed an agreement with Southwest Ranches for fire and recuse,” Greenberg says, “but when they passed it there wasn’t any information about water for this detention center, but when it came back from Southwest Ranches there was.”

“I guess nobody really did their due diligence in rereading the contract to see if there was anything added,” Greenberg says. “Nobody mentioned anything that was added, so basically we are really upset about that.”

“We want them to rescind the contract so it doesn’t include the detention center for the water,” she says. “If this detention center doesn’t have water and sewer it can’t exist. In the agreement it says ‘the willingness to provide these services,’ and Pembroke Pines residents are not willing to provide this service, because we don’t want it near our homes, our schools, our communities.”

The press release issued by the residents group opposed to the detention center adds that:

Commissioner Iris Siple spoke about this controversial agreement at the most recent September 24th resident meeting held at the Southwest Regional Library, and mentioned it was changed without public input. “When it came back at that meeting, there was not one word said by anybody, publicly that said there’s a significant change, there’s something that’s been added in here that now obligates us to something much more than what we originally talked about. (…) You as residents and me as an elected, I do not feel we were given the proper notification that something as important as this was added to the language.”

“We are concerned about an increase in crime, and increase in traffic,” Greenberg says. “There will be more random visitors visiting people at the detention center.”

She adds that no city authorities have spoken to residents, who “were not made aware of the fact that they tied this water agreement into the fire and rescue agreement with Southwest Ranches.”

Greenburg says that residents of Pembroke Pines and Southwest Ranches will continue to protest the detention center precisely because local officials are not talking to residents.

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