For Immediate Release
Romy Lerner: (305) 905-2247
Susana Barciela: (305) 301-9762
June 18, 2012 – Following numerous protests and sustained outcries from community members, local officials, immigrant rights advocates and many other concerned citizens, ICE announced late Friday that it would abandon its plan to build a new immigration detention center in Southwest Ranches, Broward County. The facility was to be built by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a private prison contractor that profits by partnering with the federal government to detain immigrants across the country.
According to its statement, “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,” a small town in Broward County largely surrounded by the City of Pembroke Pines. In the months preceding Friday’s announcement, community members and advocacy organizations mounted protests and increasingly voiced objections to the building of the facility.
In November 2011, Florida Legal Services, a legal service organization representing the Florida Immigrant Coalition, sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) challenging whether the plans for the new detention center complied with federal environmental laws. Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) joined in later correspondence demanding an environmental review.
ICE currently has more than 2,000 detention beds in Florida. The federal government detains approximately 400,000 individuals in immigration detention centers each year[i]. Among these detainees are lawful permanent residents, asylum seekers, children, individuals with mental illnesses, and in some cases, United States citizens.
“What we need is a focus on alternatives to detention — not more beds to warehouse men and women accused only of violating civil immigration laws, said Romy Lerner, AI Justice Detention Supervising Attorney. “We hope ICE’s decision to abandon Southwest Ranches signals a move toward this goal.”[i] SECURELY INSECURE: THE REAL COSTS, CONSEQUENCES & HUMAN FACE OF IMMIGRATION DETENTION; ACLU and Georgia Detention Watch. Jan. 14, 2011. http://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/sites/detentionwatchnetwork.org/files/1.14.11_Fact%20Sheet%20FINAL_0.pdf
Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) has been fighting for the American dream since its founding in 1996. One of the nation’s largest non-profit immigration law firms, AI Justice represents vulnerable immigrants at no charge. This direct service work informs its broader policy work. AI Justice influences national policy; successfully litigates or otherwise challenges patterns of abuse; and educates the public about the impact immigration laws and directives have on our communities. AI Justice is dedicated to protecting and promoting the basic human rights of immigrants. Please visit www.aijustice.org for more information.