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Immigration, private prison officials to meet with residents opposing Fla. detention center

The Southwest Ranches Town Council announced Thursday night that a meeting between Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Corrections Corporation of America and Broward County residents who oppose a proposed immigrant detention center will be held on Nov. 5. Residents Against SW Ranches ICE Detention Center wrote last night:

The Southwest Ranches Town Council just announced at tonight’s meting that the meeting with residents that was promised is going to be held on November 5th, 2011 at 10am. The place is not yet determined. Will forward details as they are made available.

Southwest Ranches and Pembroke Pines residents have opposed the proposal to build a federally funded and privately managed immigration detention center in their area since July. Last night residents announced they would call for the resignation of the mayor and town attorney of Southwest Ranches at the town meeting.

A report by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service released Thursday states:

Immigrant detention is the fastest-growing, least scrutinized form of incarceration in the United States. On any given day, the U.S. government incarcerates more than 33,000 immigrants in a vast national network of approximately 250 federal, private, state, and local jails. Among the detained population as a whole, the United States detains asylum seekers, refugees, torture survivors, undocumented immigrants, victims of human trafficking, long-term lawful permanent residents, families, and parents of children who are U.S. citizens.

The Corrections Corporation of America (commonly known as CCA), the largest private immigration detention contractor in the country, is partnering with Southwest Ranches to build the new detention facility, which would house a minimum of 2,000 detainees. 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.”

According to Detention Watch, Boca Raton’s GEO Group is the second largest ICE contractor, with seven facilities and almost 5,000 average daily prisoners as of 2009. GEO manages the Broward Transitional Center located in Deerfield Beach, where at least 700 detainees are held.

Sarah Van Hofwegen, a staff attorney at Americans for Immigrant Justice who visits immigrant detainees, tells the Independent, “I see high numbers of women who are victims of domestic violence and end up in the immigration system, through a variety of ways, in the Broward Transitional Center, the lowest-security facility in South Florida.”

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