I admit I have been rather lax in reporting on the brewing situation in Southwest Ranches, Florida. Briefly, CCA has proposed building an ICE detention center in the town, but has met with some pretty stiff resistance from the locals, who justifiably don’t want a prison in their town. After learning of the public’s opposition, CCA successfully petitioned the town council to keep mum about the prison’s construction. That’s right; officials elected to represent the people of Southwest Ranches were persuaded by CCA to tow the company line and represent the company’s interests over that of their constituents. So we’re off to a great start here…
Anyway, after that debacle, CCA employed yet another questionable tactic as it started using robocalls to try to drum up support in the community. In fact, they misrepresented the facility and touted the job creation benefits as they harassed Southwest Ranches residents with these calls. So they’re clearly the paragon of corporate responsibility.
Then there was a town council hearing last Saturday, at which no CCA representative was scheduled to be present. I guess they didn’t feel it was necessary to respond to the legitimate concerns of the people who don’t want yet another private, for-profit immigration detention facility in their town. Hundreds of local residents showed up at the meeting, complaining that the project had been rammed through despite numerous objections. The meeting was so popular that more than 100 people opposed to the project couldn’t even get in. It got so contentious that the mayor of Pembroke Pines, the next town over, criticized Southwest Ranches officials for ignoring the concerns of their own constituents.
So, to recap. Southwest Ranches residents don’t want another private immigration detention facility. The officials of the next town over are publicly criticizing the leadership of Southwest Ranches for ignoring constituents. But the project keeps moving steadily along, as CCA has used questionable tactics to force this prison on these poor folks. Thankfully though, yet another obstacle has arisen; immigration advocates are now calling for CCA to conduct an environmental impact study, which is supposed to happen before they construct the prison, per federal law. I don’t think this will be much more than another minor speedbump in CCA’s determined march to build this prison, but at least it’s something.