The Town of Southwest Ranches has released a statement regarding the cancellation of the ICE Detention Center. In it, it blames the uncertainty of water and sewer services and the associated NEPA process that the government must have found it needed to complete before moving forward in the contracting process. For those that haven't heard about the NEPA, it's basically an environmental study that is required when the government takes a financial action where it brings into account things like water use, public safety and other factors.
In addition, last month CCA had recently applied with the South Florida Water Management District to dig a well into the Biscayne Aquifer. This is something I don't see the Town Council allowing to happen since the wells for the entire Town's population could be negatively affected by this rather large commercial well use of about 60 million gallons of water per year. In addition, the letter back to CCA notes the continued "grazing land" or infamous "ag exemption" they had received for the past 12 years to avoid paying taxes on their prison parcel. They still hold the Ag Exemption on the property even though the property appraiser says it was taken off.
Essentially, they were not very forthcoming with the South Florida Water Management District that the permit was for a large commercial use and a prison of at least 1500 beds. Documents regarding the drilling into the aquifer can be found here. (Application #120514-14). The RAI letter from SFWMD to CCA can be viewed here, section 2.
According to the Town's press release, President Obama's announcement regarding a shift in DHS deportation priorities (something several members from RAID had warned the Town Council could happen) had nothing to do with it. On Friday, June 15th the President held a press conference to discuss this change in policy stating,
... deportation will no longer apply to immigrants who came into the country before they were 16 and are now younger than 30, have lived here for five straight years, have never been convicted of a crime or graduated from high school or got a GED. Such immigrants will be allowed to apply for a two-year work permit that can be renewed unlimited times.This statement renders a new detention center unnecessary as it would pertain to approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants and ICE released a statement saying as much. Shortly after the President's announcement the following statement was released by ICE,
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. 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.You can read the Town's full press release below:
Written by: Ryann Greenberg