Feds Refuse To Talk About SW Broward Prison

BY BUDDY NEVINS

Pembroke Pines Commissioner Angelo Castillo met with a high official of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency last week and got few details on the planned Southwest Broward detention facility.

Castillo traveled to Washington for his meeting.

While not quite getting the brush off, Castillo learned one salient fact — the agency is secretive and doesn’t want to talk much about building an 1,800-bed detention facility in Southwest Ranches.

ICE is the typical federal agency.  They are very willing to spend our money, but very unwilling to tell us about it.

Bureaucrats like Ann Yom Steel, whose title with ICE is long to emphasize her perceived importance, thrive in the dark.

And Washington wonders why the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street have support!

Here is Castillo’s e-mail to city officials, distributed last weekend:

 

 

From: Castillo, Angelo
Sent: Saturday, October 15, 2011 6:53 AM
To: Dodge, Charles
Cc: Goren, Sam (Cityatty.com<http://Cityatty.com>)
Subject: My Meeting With ICE in Washington

Please share with my colleagues.

I arrived home from Washington last night and wanted to get this out to you as quickly as I could.  On Thursday, I met with Ann Yom Steel, Deputy Assistant Director for Congressional, Local and Indian Affairs for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency yesterday at her office inWashington DC.  Her office is located within the Headquarters building of the Department of Homeland Security.

Director Steel is a senior executive within the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.  She has access to the Agency Director and is part of his executive managemen team.  I thanked her for making time to see me with only two days notice.  I shared with her the feelings and concerns of residents and asked that ICE officials come to our area and hold a town hall meeting in our community so that area residents could hear first hand what they have in mind and respond to their questions and concerns.

Director Steel was gracious and patient yet reserved in her commentary.  She listened carefully as I itemized the objections and concerns to her agency’s planned facility that residents have indicated to me in emails and meetings.  I discussed their concerns about property value worries, security issues, traffic concerns, proximity to schools, a suspect feeling about privite companies running facilities, whether the look of the community would change, among additional concerns that have been raised.  Her response began by indicating that ICE is a law enforcement agency, part of the Homeland Security Department, and that they have, in her words, a difficult yet essential national security task accomplish with 20,000 staff and offices throughout the US and internationally.  She is aware that ICE is not the most loved agency within the federal government but defended the agency’s mission as critical to national security.  She indicated that in South Florida the agency experiences significant shortage ofdetention center capacity and that additional beds are needed.  She asked me to understand that the agency has a certain protocol that they follow with respect to the establishment of facilities.  That protocol is very regimented all aspects of which are closely overseen by acquisitions experts and legal counsel.  She said that ICE rarely meets with residents in the setting that I requested.  However, at my request, she is presenting my request to her superiors and legal counsel for review and promised to get back to me with a response in writing in early November.

Specifically, I asked her if the project was a “done deal.”  She indicated that ICE would make no comment until their acquisitions staff, who are responsible for entering into the necessary contract, completed their task and that negotiations are in process. I asked if she had a timetable for completing those negotiations.  She indicated that she was unaware of any timetable and could not respond with a specific timeframe.  I asked if ICE had specifically asked the Town officials of SW Ranches to not speak to the public about their negotiations.  She said she was unaware of any such request.  I asked if ICE was making any plans, apart from the facility negotiations, in anticipation of opening this facility.  She indicated that discussions were taking place with area Sheriff’s Offices and that these steps were standard in advance of opening any detention center.  She indicated that there is strong coordination between detention centers and Sheriff’s Offices.  I asked if those arrangements carried added costs to Sheriff’s Offices and she indicated that they did but was not immediately at liberty to specify.  In fact, Director Steel gave me the impression that the news report of some months ago, in which ICE says that they had selected SW Ranches as their preferred location for a new detention center in South Florida, is not a typical announcement.  I was left with the impression that this announcement, while accurate, may not have been handled in accordance with agency protocol.  ICE does not talk much in public seems to be a fair way to sum up their community affairs approach.

My overall impression of the meeting based on our exchance is as follows.

ICE is a traditional federal law enforcement agency.  It is not their practice to engage very much in community affairs.  Like most federal law enforcement agencies, they are a paramilitary operation that runs on strict rules and procedures.  ICE has a long tradition of doing things in a certain way.  It was clear to me that ICE is actively engaged in advancing their mission to establish a detention center within the Town of SW Ranches.  It was underscored to me several times that they do not discuss such things before a decision to proceed has been made, and that her discussion with me about this matter constituted a rare exception.  ICE places mission above other considerations, and Director Steel left me with the impression that while mission does come first, her agency does regret that there should be any level of resident concern about them possibly coming to the area to open a detention center.  It is clear to me that the agency is decidedly moving forward with their plans in SW Ranches but simply refraining from making that announcement at this time.

Above all else, she left me with a clear impression that they have a mission to manage.  That they are executing that mission in accordance with their internal protocols.  That more specific responses to my questions could not be expected until after they had announced their decision to build a detention center at that location.  Meetings betwen ICE and local residents to discuss facilities located by ICE are rarely held.  However, at my specific request, she has tasked her colleagues with reviewing our request for a meeting and will respond to me shortly.  Director Steel stated her regret that any residents should be concerned with the prospect of this facility.  She was aware of the State Prison located next to ICE’s proposed location.  She is aware that the State Prison has been a good neighbor within the community.  She believes that residents should experience similar results with a detention center.  I explained that residents want to hear about the facility directly from ICE and that they consider it disrespectful that such a meeting has not yet taken place.  She repeated that she would respond to my request for a meeting soon.

We met for approximately 45 minutes.  Once I receive Director Steel’s response I will disclose it publicly.  Please share this report with your email list for wide distribution.

Angelo Castillo, Commissioner
City of Pembroke Pines



14 Responses to “Feds Refuse To Talk About SW Broward Prison”

  1. Seriously The Residents Didn't Know! says:

    Talk about buyer beware! This site has been slated for a penal institution since 1997! It has its landuse, its zoning, its plat, and even an approved site plan. They could pull a permit today if they wanted to start construction. It is directly next to a maximum security woman’s jail, a future maximum security men’s jail, a soon to be reactivated landfill (much more impact than this proposed facility, why are the resident’s not complaining), and the everglades. Is this really about the location, which seems to be ideal for this facility, or could this really be a fight against US Immigration? Any reason why Pines and SW Ranches have been flooded with robo calls from an anti-immigration group based in California? Also, it is interesting that Pines has a population of more than 154,000, SW Ranches has a population of close to 10,000, and less than 100 residents total from both municipalities are complaining? Are any of those residents on the California Company’s boooks (i.e. their apparent leaded)? Has anyone asked them? Once again I want to bring to your attention how many times this issue came up for public debate. Seriously, these resiednts, who could not even find this site if they had to, claim not to have known anything? Hope their realators have good insurance.

    As it relates to the City of Pembroke Pines, the Town’s records show that the CCA parcel was debated publicly:

    Delegation Request: September 21, 2005

    Interlocal Agreement: October 17, 2005

    Interlocal Agreement: November 14, 2005

    Interlocal Agreement: December 21, 2005

    Interlocal Agreement: December 20, 2006

    Fire Agreement w/ County: October 20, 2010

    Delegation Request: February 2, 2011

    Fire Agreement: June 27, 2011

    Prison & Road Discussion: August 2, 2011

    Fire Agreement: August 17, 2011

    Prison Discussion: October 5, 2011

    As it relates to the Town of Southwest Ranches, this issue was publicly discussed at numerous meetings, including meetings CCA attended with homeowner associations between 2000 and 2004, but was specifically debated on a Town Council agenda as follows:

    Resident Input Workshop: April 1, 2004

    Site Plan: July 14, 2005 2005-93

    Delegation Request: August 10, 2005 2005-100

    Site Plan Extension: August 10, 2005 2005-101

    Interlocal Agreement: October 17, 2005

    Interlocal Agreement: November 14, 2005

    Interlocal Agreement: December 20, 2005

    Delegation Request: July 6, 2006 2006-079

    Interlocal Agreement: January 4, 2007 2007-022

    Site Plan Extension: June 14, 2007 2007-075

    Site Plan Extension: December 13, 2007 2008-026

    Site Plan Extension; December 4, 2008 2009-019

    Delegation Request: January 6, 2011 2011-026

    Prison Code Amendment: October 20, 2010, November 3, 2010 2011-003

    Public Workshop: November 10, 2010

    Interlocal Agreement: November 3, 2010 2010-011

    Pines Fire Agreement: June 23, 2011 2011-068

  2. Castillo Better Have Deep Pockets says:

    Castillo better have deep pockets. Not only could he have possibly breahed two agreements with the Town of Southwest Ranches, but if he did this on his own he may be found liable for tortious interference. Someone should ask Charlie Dodge or Sam Goren if he was doing this on his own on behalf of the City. As a tax payer, I’d hate to come out of pocket for his mistake and misuse of office. Funny that after meeting with ICE, it appears that his meeting completely backfired.

  3. Pines Resident says:

    Hey Angelo, is this simply about immigration or do you really have an issue with a prison being built on this site? Don’t see you running to DC to oppose the reopening of the neighboring landfill. Who paid for your trip? Hope it wasn’t me!

  4. Bit of History says:

    Here’s a bit of history that was previously posted. In 1997, CCA acquired the parcel in response to Broward County’s Request for Proposals to privatize its jail system. The location was ideal due to the fact that it has been zoned for heavy industrial uses, including prisons, since the 1970s, is adjacent to a maximum security woman’s jail, the site of the future maximum security men’s jail, a land fill, and the Everglades. After Sheriff Cochran’s death, Broward County decided to run its own jail system and as such CCA began to explore other correctional uses of the property, and continued to work with Broward County on developing the site. In response to the quality of service and costs of providing services to the unincorporated areas, during this exact same time, Broward County passed a law requiring all unincorporated areas to be incorporated by 2010. There were several bills filed to annex the area now known as the Town of Southwest Ranches, and one of those bills was amended to actually serve as the formation of the Town. The Town was formed on June 6, 2000. This parcel was approved to be a penal institution at least 3 years before the Town was ever formed.

  5. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Dear Friends,

    I went to Washington DC on business, and while there, in my individual capacity as an elected official and at no expense to the taxpayers of Pembroke Pines, went to visit an official at ICE to share with her the concerns voiced to me by my constituents with respect to a proposed immigration facility and to ask ICE to come to our area and provide a Town Hall meeting to inform residents and answer their questions. I have reported the outcome of that meeting publicly.

    Nobody tells me who I can or can’t meet with or what I can or can’t say to anybody. I make those decisions for myself, I don’t scare very easily and do not take kindly to threats. That kind of talk only emboldens me to represent my community all the more.

    Today, I saw a letter from Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to SW Ranches Mayor Jeff Nelson where she acknowledges the Mayor’s efforts to request a similar meeting from ICE. The Congresswoman has also requested that a town hall meeting take place. It looks like everybody so far except ICE thinks that having this meeting makes sense. Perhaps they will agree also and allow our residents to hear from them and get answers to their questions.

    Thanks.

    Angelo

  6. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    By the Way:

    For the record — Ann Yom Steel is a impressive public servant who granted me a meeting despite the limitations imposed on her to share specific information.

    Director Steel is a senior official at ICE. She could have made any number of excuses for not meeting with me. But she didn’t. And that deserves our respect.

    Director Steel is to be respected for meeting with me thereby showing respect to our community.

    We have invited ICE to come to our community and hold a town hall meeting. That welcome cannot be disrespectful if we want it accepted.

    Let’s be respectful so they will show us respect in return.

    Angelo

  7. Concerned Pines Resident says:

    Hey Angelo, I assume you also met with the EPA when you were there to talk about reopening the landfill the proposed recycling facility?

  8. Murry Casano says:

    Angelo helped sign the agreement to bring the facility to Southwest Ranches. When protests began, he ducked responsibility.

  9. Concerned Pines Resident says:

    Barbara Sharief may vote to reopen the dump because it would benefit Miramar which is the only community out there she really cares about. We are watching the discussion very carefully.

  10. BlowinTheSmoke says:

    Those Ranches people have some nerve saying nothing about this plan for years and waking up only now to object. All that horseshit must keep them from thinking straight. It is your town. If you do not want a prison say so and make them stop. Why bring other cities into this mess?

  11. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Murry,

    I signed nothing to bring any facility to SW Ranches and am not much of a ducker. Nobody can say that I hide on any difficult issue. But I tell the truth even when it hurts because to do less is to be disrespectful.

    The Pines City Commission unanimously approved of a ILA, basically a treaty to end the road closure nonsense between us and the Town back in 2005. We also unanimously approved an agreement this summer to approce the Town’s request and provide them with fire rescue services. Both agreements require that the Town or landowner pay for those services 100%. They both also mention the Town’s plan to build a prison or like structure within their city limits. That’s not news. They’ve been saying that for over a decade now.

    What we did in Pines is hardly signing or voting for anything that authorizes a facility in SW Ranches. We don’t approve and can’t stop what other cities do within their city limits, so c’mon now. Let’s get the facts straight.

    Angelo

  12. SW Rancher says:

    Thanks to the Miami Herald for some real reporting!

    http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2011/nov/10/frank-ortis/pembroke-pines-vote-southwest-ranches/

  13. Panda Bear says:

    Hey, Buddy!
    Did you hear the news? Pines won last night. I hope you’ll now run a story with multiple apologies for the PP Commissioners who you dragged through the mud, especially Castillo, who seems to be your fav to talk bad about.
    You see how you’re not what you claim to be…the all-knowledgeable, I’ve said it all?
    Here’s one for you: Have a Bud!

    FROM BUDDY:

    Losing spending millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money in legal fees and unrealized earnings for Pembroke Pines is a win?

    I don’t claim to be “all knowledgeable”. I claim to be smart enough not to buy a house near an industrial park without realizing the consequences.

    I hope you love what will be put there now. Take a look at the zoning and land use. The owners can put almost anything at that location.

    All that said, the handful of homeowners who delayed this federal detention facility for months deserve a hand. Their hard work — whether I believe they are misguided or not — are in the best tradition of political grass roots action.

    The Pembroke Pines City Commission, however, does not deserve any applause. They are gutless.

  14. West Pines Homeowner says:

    I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of those residents from both PPines & SW Ranches who fought so hard to keep this ICE Facility from being built. You have not only succeeded where others have failed, but you have also achieved one other thing, and that is 2 law suits against the City of PPines and for that you should be commended. The City of PPines is now not only being sued by CCA but SW Ranches has considered throwing their name into the hat as well. I would personally like to take this opportunity to thank Commissioners Iris Siple, Angelo Castillo & Jay Schwartz as well as those residents of PPines that cared only about themselves and not the residents of the city as a whole, especially those on fixed incomes such as our elderly who will now have to pay for your arogance. I thank you. And to the residents of SW Ranches who also need to share in this blame, I thank you as well. Maybe we should just give the bill to our three commissioners as well as all of those residents that fought so hard to keep CCA out.

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