SOUTHWEST RANCHES (CBS4) – A proposed immigration detention center is “97% certain” to be built in Southwest Ranches, town leaders told residents Monday night.
All five council members told residents at a regular town meeting that they are in agreement with the proposed facility, reminding residents that the land was purchased by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) in 1998 and agreed to in 2005 for this type of prison.
The 1500-bed facility will be built near a women’s prison and a bus depot.
“It is my belief that a vast majority of the residents who live in the town of Southwest Ranches support it because they have been educated, they know the history and they know that why we’re here today engaging in this relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and CCA,” said Mayor Jeff Nelson.
At the meeting, a handful of residents spoke in favor of the project while a handful spoke against.
Rachel Greene, a longtime resident, said she believes people who didn’t know about the facility weren’t paying attention.
“People just aren’t informed any more,” Greene said. “Or they don’t seem to want to be informed. They need to be informed or these kinds of things happen all the time.”
Town leaders told residents that one of the reasons they approve of the project is the money it will bring the town. Council members said that money is desperately needed to pay for road repairs and a new city hall.
But opponents are concerned about increased crime and traffic as well as declining property values.
One resident said the facility would make Southwest Ranches, “the smallest town with the largest detention center in the country.”
Other opponents say the process has been intentionally kept quiet by the town, even if it dates back several years.
“The council and the government of Southwest Ranches have been terribly remiss in bringing this out in a manner that gets people knowledgeable about the subject,” said Bill Discipio.
Mayor Nelson explained the company that would own and operate the prison, CCA, instructed them to stay quiet the last 8 months. But he showed us a list of 30 dates where the prison plans were publicized and discussed dating back to 2001.
After spend a few days this week in Washington D.C. discussing the matter with Homeland Security Mayor Nelson says he feels confident that they are going to build the facility in the town of Southwest Ranches.
Regardless of who’s right a lot of money is on the line. Jobs, property taxes and a kickback.
According to the contract, Southwest Ranches would collect four percent of whatever the prison makes.