Detention center critics focus opposition on U.S. Rep.

Critics feel betrayed by Wasserman Schultz

SOUTHWEST RANCHES, Fla. - Those who don't want the Department of Homeland Security to build a detention center for illegal immigrants in their community have now focused their opposition on U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who cosigned a letter of support for the project with Sen. Bill Nelson in April. 

The proposed Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center will have 1,500 beds and house illegal immigrants before they are deported and will be run by a private prison company called Corrections Corporation of America. 

Opponents feel betrayed by their local representative and accuse her of cozying up the private prison company that will run the facility in exchange for campaign contributions. A blog opposing the project recently posted an artist's rendering of the detention center with Wasserman Schultz's name on the front. 

Wasserman Schultz was talking about the federal payroll tax in Dania Beach on Monday and didn't want to answer questions about the immigration detention center on camera, because she said it would only fuel the opponents' misplaced anger toward her.  

Neighbors are worried a detention center for illegal immigrants will make their community less safe and bring down their property values. 

Wasserman Schultz said she felt it was best option for this property. The congresswoman explained off camera that the property could have been used for a real prison or another dump. She said she signed the letter long after Southwest Ranches approved the deal with CCA and did so because the project will create 1,000 jobs. 

She also said the way she feels about the project is irrelevant because the Department of Homeland Security decides where it builds immigration detention centers, not Congress. 

The attorney for the town of Southwest Ranches said he expects CCA to submit its first site plans for the project sometime this week.

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