ICE: IT IS TIME TO PULL THE PLUG ON CCA
The City of Pembroke Pines joins Residents and Advocates in Non-Cooperation with the Proposed Immigration Prison in Southwest Ranches
After months of controversy, last night the city of Pembroke Pines finally terminated an existing inter-local agreement (ILA) with the Town of Southwest Ranches according to which, among other things, they would provide water and sewer service to a 1,500 bed immigration detention center the town plans to build in partnership with Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). This decision marks a turning point to a development that increasingly appears no one wants, except those that expect to profit from it.
A growing and diverse chorus of voices has joined the initial protests of the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), and a resident-led movement has emerged asking CCA to “go away.” Additionally, environmental concerns voiced by the Sierra Club and civil liberties concerns about for-profit incarceration have also emerged.
ICE must immediately abandon its plans for this for-profit immigrant prison which is not wanted, nor welcomed in South Florida. In addition to our ongoing objections to costly and unjust incarceration of immigrant families, there are environmental implications, impacts in the quality of life for surrounding communities, moral concerns about for- profit prisons and anger about lack of transparency and accountability in government. Isn’t that enough to tell ICE to pull the plug?
Since last summer when residents and immigrant advocates first heard about the proposed prison, which could be one of the largest in the country, the opposition has grown significantly. In August, the Florida Immigrant Coalition did a phone-survey and out of 229 residents, 89% said they opposed the detention center. From that moment on, residents and community groups have been able to draw enough public attention as to bring this issue to the Pembroke Pines City Commission in several meetings and actually gain a victory by having the City of Pembroke Pines join its residents and the residents of Southwest Ranches in non-cooperation with the building of this prison.
Organizational opposition has been critical. Recently, the Broward Chapter of the Sierra Club passed a resolution opposing the for-profit prison for its immediate environmental impacts in terms of water consumption and proximity to the Everglades National Park.
Last November, FLIC sent a letter to ICE asking for a full environmental review of the proposed prison to which ICE hasn’t responded yet. Without this environmental impact study (EIS), ICE could be in violation of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and subject to a lawsuit
This proposed prison, driven by profit motive, is already draining public resources before even being agreed upon.Not even 12 hours had passed when CCA was already suing Pembroke Pines for the water agreement. Lawsuits will be flying back and forth costing the public thousands or millions of dollars, in addition to approximately the yearly $70 to $89 million* of taxpayer money that this new facility would cost ICE to run.
In addition to the environmental and economic concerns, ICE needs to reconsider its links to for-profit immigration prison companies like CCA who has questionable practices and pending lawsuits for human rights violations against inmates. It is about time ICE stops feeding the greedy at the expense of immigrant families, and considers alternatives to detention when necessary.
* Based on a calculation of an estimation of $122/per night per inmate for a 1,500 to 2,000-bed facility