MIAMI (CBSMiami) – With support eroding for a new privately built and operated federal detention center in Southwest Ranches, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency announced late Friday that it was abandoning plans for the center, a victory for opponents and a blow to those who saw it as a source of tax revenue and jobs.
“ICE has reevaluated its need for an additional detention facility in South Florida and has decided that it will no longer pursue a facility in the Town of Southwest Ranches,” the agency said Friday in a statement released by spokesperson Nestor Yglesias.
However, even though ICE apparently has given up on the chance to build at a site once proposed for a county jail facility, it still sees a need for more sp[ace, according to the statement.
"We are examining our options for additional detention space in the region and will make the appropriate notifications when a decision about the way forward has been made,” the statement said.
The 1800 bed facility would have been home to both short and long term violators of the country's immigration laws, much like the Krome Avenue detention center is currently used.
Krome is badly overcrowded, and ICE had seen the facility in Southwest Ranches as a way to correct that.
Originally, the federal agency had looked at three locations and settled on Southwest Ranches in a decision that was initially welcomed by government leaders and members of the community.
The facility would have been built and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Friday, the company issued a statement about the decision through Steve Owen, a company spokesman:
“One of the greatest values we offer our government partners is the flexibility to meet their changing circumstances,’’ said the statement. “We understand ICE’s decision not to proceed with a civil detention facility. We are grateful for ICE’s tentative selection of our site and Southwest Ranches’ interest in partnering with CCA.’’
As plans became firmer other neighboring communities began to object to the decision by tiny Southwest Ranches, which depends on those communities for services like water and fire.
The city of Pembroke Pines moved to actively oppose the site, cutting contracts for services in an effort to make it impossible for the town to build the prison.
CCA sued Pembroke Pines for its role in trying to have the project shut down, and the city counter sued. Neither lawsuit had moved into the courtroom.
In March, Pembroke Pines was told ICE had decided to cancel the facility but later learned that was not true.
Friday's announcement is official, and leaves the agency pondering what to do next and Southwest Ranches without revenue it had hoped for.