Thursday, November 10, 2011

CCA Forcing Prison on Floridians

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.


  1. Thank you for the press. A few points of clarification:

    1. the meeting on saturday was not a council meeting, but an "informational" meeting with Director Gary Mead (ICE), the Mayor of SWR, and a phalanx of CCA senior management. Former Florida AG Bob Butterworth moderated. At least 350 comment cards were submitted and entry was allowed for about 150 residents only.

    As if it were a paramilitary operation, Broward Sheriff's office and Pembroke Pines police had dozens of armed officers outside and inside the meeting venue. In order to enter the meeting hall, you needed to supply your name, address AND YOUR OPINION OF THE PRISON (FOR, AGAINST OR NEUTRAL) to gain entry! People were refused entry under threat of arrest for not furnished the card.

    I fully believe that every resident who indicated opposition to the prison promptly had their names run through the NCIC database.

    Many many people felt intimidated by the presence and were upset that they were unable to enter the meeting.

    This is in the context of Broward Sheriff's office routinely refusing residents entry into town hall meetings as their current room allows 50 occupants and 13 are typically officials. So, while this debate rages on, the Town is using the Sheriff's office to only allow 37 residents to attend council meetings at one time.

    Once CCA owns the Town, we fully believe that they will own any elected official in the Town and enact whatever legislation they see fit even if the vast majority of residents are hurt by it.

    Keep up the fight.

    Bill Di Scipio
    Residents Against SW Ranches ICE Detention Center

  2. Oh, I forgot, both Senator Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz cosigned a letter endorsing the project for Southwest Ranches. This assault comes from the highest levels of the Federal Government.

    Bill Di Scipio

  3. The reason for the SWAT team is simple. The homeowners that are opposed to this prison, and the way it came to be located near schools, homes, and residences have been labeled "ACTIVISTS"
    Homeland security under Janet Napilitano has "ACTIVISTS" in the same category as Al Qaeda, Timithy McVay, Murderers, Rapists, and very bad and dangerous people that read the bible, own guns, were once soldiers that fought for know like you and your friends and neighboors. Under Obama, we have become a Police State, where you are labeled and are guilty if the Director Napilitano says so.

  4. Thanks for writing about what's happening here in South Florida.
    Just wanted to correct that the request for an environmental review from the Florida Immigrant Coalition is directed to ICE, as they are the federal agency in charge of contracting this facility and therefore are the ones accountable to comply with the National Environmetal Protection Act (NEPA).

    No matter what CCA says about their environmental permits, it's ICE who should perform a full environmental review to study what will be the impacts of this project in the surrounding areas, not only in the Everglades, but also in traffic, home values, public services, etc.

  5. Hey everyone - Wow I'm sorry for the oversights in my article. Thanks for the corrections; all are very much appreciated.

    Bill, that's absolutely terrifying! I knew from the time CCA had asked the council not to speak about the project that there would be some shady business, but to force people to announce their position before being allowed in is ludicrous.

    Natalia, that's a great point. As far as I understand, CCA will still be on the hook to pay for the environmental study. But regardless, yes the study must absolutely be performed not only for the environment, but for all the other variables you mentioned as well.

  6. Here is a video that covers the event!

  7. JAQUEBAUER jaqueobauer@gmail.com19 November, 2011

    This could be stopped in a heartbeat if Homeland security or a higher authority would act on the peoples demands. That is-if they are listening. We should overload Janet Napalitano with snail mail-as email can be erased easily, and hidden.
    Thousands of letters are hard to hide.
    What the hell-give the master of the universe Obama a piece of your mind too--he wants to get re-elected, and would do anything for a vote.

    Secondly, our fight must go national. What happened to us can happen to any community in the US--and you can bet many little towns run by crooks have learned from this, and they want to get their hands on such a gravy source of revenue too.

    The STATE LEGISLATURE is the original reason this isolated parcel of land floating in the sea of Pembroke Pines was given to SW Ranches. It was illogical to do that, so perhaps there were other forces behind that decision. This should be investigated, as all leads or ideas.

    I think we can still turn this around. I submit that a conspiracy of players, possibly in violation of law, devised this scheme to locate the prison in our front yards. Could the Florida State Legislature have been the first to be influenced to keep this land in SW Ranches because of the future prison ?
    Did Pembroke Pines fight for this land to remain within its borders. or was it involved in the conspiracy ?
    Ron Bergeron is a common demoninator in this prison plan, and most likely will be making money off the prison, either directly with contracts, or indirectly. It was his land CCA bought, and Bergeron has used his cows to get tax exemptions for many years, defrauding the county of millions of revenue dollars.
    What iF the ag exemption were revoked from CCA, so they had to pay their fair share of county taxes ? Would they pull out ?
    Why has the BROWARDS businesses been silent on the tax break--They are paying the full assessment, but CCA gets off easily-becasue of a crooked gang running SW Ranches government.
    Why did P Pines permit houses and schools to be built where they now stand, knowing a prison would be built within sight of their property. Did their hunger for revenue blind their common sense ?
    Why did our real estate agents fail to disclose plans for the prison, when selling the high$$ homes to many of us ?
    This aint over. I read that Wasserman Schultz has high poll numbers for re-election. WE MUST reverse that trend and THROW HER OT ON HER ASS. She has sold us out too. Some of you may be Democrats, and I am sorry for you. But that is no reason to keep a traitor in office. A Bad Democrat is worse than any other running for her office, so we must make her pay for her support of this prison.

  8. Folks, we've finally got a more formal weblog set up. Please subscribe:

    If our community cannot defeat CCA, then there is little hope that CCA can EVER be defeated anywhere. Fight.