#AbolishICE Protesters Demonstrating at GEO's Private-Prison Headquarters Today

#AbolishICE Protesters Demonstrating at GEO's Private-Prison Headquarters Today
Courtesy of Tomas Kennedy
Update 7/18: Protesters have formed a circle and blocked off streets outside Miami's ICE headquarters in Miramar:

Update 7/16:
Protesters have photographed themselves blocking entrances and exits to the for-profit Broward Transitional Center detention facility and are preventing detention buses from leaving or entering. (Scroll down for photographs.) Seven demonstrators were reportedly arrested.

South Florida activists used to joke that locals couldn't be bothered to protest anything — the weather is either too hot, too rainy, or too darn nice for people to stand outside chanting for civil rights. But that's changed. The Trump presidency has ignited a sustained groundswell of political action and anger, even in apathetic South Florida.

This week's edition: Immigrant-rights activists are planning two major demonstrations, including one at 4 p.m. today at the private-prison and for-profit immigration-detention giant GEO Group's new headquarters (which is still under construction) at 4955 Technology Way in Boca Raton. Most of those activists will then protest outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Miramar later this week.

GEO Group is "ICE's largest contractor, with a current value of $471 million," the protesters write. "Immigrant detainees are treated like criminals even though immigration violations are considered a civil matter and they have never been convicted of a crime in an American court. GEO has outgrown its old offices and is spending tens of millions of dollars earned through human suffering to build a brand-new six-story headquarters."

GEO, a major donor to the Trump campaign and other Florida politicians, is no stranger to civil rights protests. In 2012, New Times profiled two undocumented activists who infiltrated the company's Broward Transitional Center, an immigrant-detention facility for "low-level" detainees who've either committed minor crimes, such as traffic infractions, or no crimes at all. The activists said they witnessed abusive conditions inside the facility, and in response, local members of Congress demanded it be investigated. Mere weeks ago, activists blocked roads outside the Broward Transitional Center to protest GEO's business model.

This Wednesday, demonstrators will gather at 10:30 a.m. outside the ICE facility in Miramar, where immigrants are forced to stand in long lines for hours in the rain and hot sun as they wait for immigration check-ins. Though ICE says visitors can access bathrooms or water fountains by request, activists say they're rarely granted permission.

Activists also say the facility regularly detains immigrants at check-ins for no reason, in a process the rights groups call "silent raids." To make matters worse, activists say, there isn't enough parking at the facility to accommodate the swell of check-in visitors under Trump, and tow trucks sometimes circle the lot to prey on immigrants who can't find legal spaces. Activists are pushing Miramar city officials to force ICE out of the small town.

"The silent raids and deportations happening in our community are acts of violence and violations of our humanity," the activists write. "Until this ICE facility and all other facilities in Florida and around the nation are shut down, the Deportation Force will continue to throw us in cages, deport us, and kill us. We hold the power to close the Miramar ICE facility."


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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.