Federal government officials have abandoned plans to build an immigrant detention center in Southwest Ranches, authorities announced late Friday, bringing to a close a year-long fight by local residents and others opposed to the facility.
The announcement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which would have staffed the detention center, was terse and offered little explanation for the decision.
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, read a written statement sent by Nestor Yglesias, an ICE spokesman in Miami. 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.
Torres declined to say if the agency is considering other South Florida locations for a detention center, or if ICE has decided that it has enough beds in the region.
For more than a year, ICE has said the Southwest Ranches location was at the top of its list to build one of the nations largest facilities to hold immigrant detainees. The proposed plan included at least 1,500 beds and 500,000-square-feet of space.
Corrections Corporation of America, the private prison contractor vying to bring the detention center to Southwest Ranches, issued a written response through Steve Owen, a company spokesman:
One of the greatest values we offer our government partners is the flexibility to meet their changing circumstances, Owens statement read. We understand ICEs decision not to proceed with a civil detention facility. We are grateful for ICEs tentative selection of our site and Southwest Ranches interest in partnering with CCA.
CCA owns the approximately 24-acre property just east of U.S. 27 between Sheridan Street and Stirling Road in Southwest Broward where the detention center would have been built. The company has been working with Southwest Ranches town leaders since about 2005 to bring the facility to Southwest Broward.
ICEs Friday night announcement was welcomed by neighboring Pembroke Pines commissioners, who have been opposed to the center being built in an area that includes a county landfill and a state prison but also thousands of homes and several schools.
We dont want that stuff in Pembroke Pines, said Iris Siple, a Pembroke Pines commissioner.
It was not a very popular idea here, said Angelo Castillo, another Pembroke Pines commissioner. In fact, thats understating it. It was a dreaded idea.
Castillo said the local outcry against the detention center was so large that the federal government must have taken notice.
But he added that ICEs statement suggests the agency abandoned the idea simply because the U.S. government realized it already had enough detention beds.
South Florida is already home to the Krome Service Processing Center and the Broward Transitional Center.
Krome, which has 581 beds, is divided into three pods for detainees with serious or criminal backgrounds and six dormitories for nonviolent detainees. The Broward Transitional Center has capacity for 700 and houses those with less serious or no criminal history.