SOUTHWEST RANCHES (CBS4) – An immigration detention center planned for Southwest Ranches is not getting a warm welcome from residents.

The proposed site along 196th Avenue near Sheridan would be the largest immigration facility in America.

While Southwest Ranches has always held onto it’s rural roots it’s clear a political mess unfolding around the 1500 hundred bed immigration processing center, or prison, depending on how you look at it.

“It’s going to be in the area right next to those trees.  Right next to the Broward Correctional Facility,” Ryann Greenberg points out as we stand next to wasteland of the county landfill.  CBS4’s David Sutta asks her if it’s close to her home.  “Yeah, it’s four tenths of a mile.”

Greenberg a mother of two is worried about the impact the facility would have own her quiet neighborhood.  It’s driven her to the point she has collected a thousand petitions against it.

“We are just bringing Krome up to this area and that’s just not acceptable and it shouldn’t be acceptable to anybody else.”  Greenberg said.

It certainly isn’t to the Florida Immigration Coalition.

“We think that if 1500 beds are added this is only going to double or triple immigrations ability to continue destroying our community,” said FLIC organizer Cathy Bird.

Bird is not only angry of what the facility would stand for but Southwest Ranches appearance of hiding it.

Emails from the town attorney to council actually tells them to “remain fully quiet on this one.”

“This is not a legal cone of silence.  This is instructions from lawyers to keep everything quiet until everything is done,”  Bird contended.

Southwest Ranches Mayor disagrees.

“We complied,” said Mayor Jeff Nelson. “Whether you want to say cone of silence or forward all questions that’s what we did.”

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.

According to Nelson agreements inked in 2005 with the town make it a done deal.

“They could pull the permit tomorrow and build because they have the right to do that,” Nelson said.

Bird on the other hand believed quite differently.

“This is not a done deal.  It’s far from it,” argued Bird. “We are following every step of the way and we are  going to stop it wherever we can.”

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 4% of whatever the prison makes.

“That’s not enough to sacrifice our town.” Greenberg said.

The hotly contested issue in Southwest Ranches will continue Saturday morning at 10 o’clock at the Regional Library. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials will be on hand to give information on their plans.


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