ICE cancels tentative agreement to build a for-profit immigrant lock-up in South Florida.
David vs. Goliath battle results in victory for immigrant rights, residents and environmentalists
After a long and heated fight in South Florida, ICE announced yesterday that their plan to bring one of the largest for-profit immigration detention centers in the country, through an agreement with the Town of Southwest Ranches and private prison giant, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), is dead. Immigrant advocates and immigrant families are claiming this as a victory against the mass incarceration of immigrants driven by profit, thus saving taxpayers millions of dollars.
Below is a statement from Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director for the Florida Immigrant Coalition, the organization who spearheaded the grassroots campaign “CCA Go Away” together with Broward residents.
“After one year of hearing our elected officials say this was a ‘done deal’, including Cong. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, we always believed that anything was possible as long as we could get people together to unite their voices in opposition and to build power in their communities. All of us can and should stand up to powerful interests, including corporations and elected officials, who are not watching or representing the interests of those affected. There is no such thing as a ‘done deal’ when people unite and do everything they can to hold their leaders accountable.
This proposed immigration detention center was always wrong and unnecessary from any point of view. South Florida didn’t want more immigrant families being torn apart because of increased detentions and deportations; Broward residents didn’t want a massive prison near their homes; taxpayers couldn’t continue feeding the business of immigrant detention making companies like CCA increase its profits; and the Everglades couldn’t take more irresponsible urban development that threatened its stability.
We have witnessed the influence that for-profit prison companies have on our policies and legislators and we want them out of Florida all together. For-profit prison corporations are lobbying and promoting laws that deepen the crisis of mass incarceration of people of color in this country. To make it worse, private prison companies like CCA and the GEO Group have a long track record of cutting corners with the safety of detainees so they can make more money. The devastating results include wrongful deaths, riots, and sexual assaults; many of which get covered up. CCA is not a good neighbor.
The national expansion of detention for profit has met nationwide resistance and decisive victories for those who oppose it. Since 2011, the National Prison Divestment Campaign has been instrumental to get the United Methodist Church and Pershing Square to divest their shares in CCA and Geo Group and more institutions are sure to follow suit. This year, the largest prison privatization effort in the country failed in the Florida legislature. In April, Valdosta County, GA, shelved a CCA project. Just this week,Crete, IL, voted down another CCA immigration prison in this Chicago suburb. Today, South Floridians celebrate this as a victory of diverse sectors that came together to protect our community. The coalition that came together stood up to the worst of the 1% and won.
Costly immigrant detention that profits private corporations like CCA and the Geo Group on the backs of taxpayers is immoral, expensive, and unnecessary. ICE itself has hailed cheaper alternatives to detention to be just as effective and saves millions in taxpayer money. In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, ICE must stop its expansion of costly detention and the brutal separation of families.
This decision came on the same day as President Obama announced administrative relief for young immigrants, who were often unnecessarily incarcerated in private prisons such as the one CCA planned to build in South Florida.
Immigrants, and especially Latinos, finally feel that our voices are being heard. We have made it clear that we will not accept any profiteering from our pain and the separation of our families.“