| Police |

Protests Planned Today at Broward's Privately Run Immigrant-Detention Center

Protests Planned Today at Broward's Privately Run Immigrant-Detention Center
Eflatmajor7th / Wikimedia Commons
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

Update: Scroll down to see images from today's protest, including anti-ICE banners unfurled across the state and shots of protesters blocking roads near the detention center.

The Broward Transitional Center is basically a jail for people who haven't committed crimes. It's designed to hold "low-level" immigrant detainees slated for deportation after they've been arrested on minor charges — such as driving without a license — or picked up on no criminal charges at all.

The center is also run by Boca Raton's gigantic private-prison contractor, the GEO Group, which means a private company is making money from keeping immigrants locked up.

Given those two facts, progressive activists who oppose both the private-prison industry and the concept of imprisoning immigrant detainees awaiting deportation say they plan to stage a "Families Are Not for Profit" protest outside the facility from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today.

The event is hosted by immigrant-rights groups such as the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Broward Immigrant Justice Coalition, and United We Dream, as well as the Miami-Dade and Broward chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America. As of Wednesday evening, more than 60 people said they would rally outside the facility.

"Families belong together outside of detention centers. We denounce the Trump administration and elected officials who are complicit with GEO Group and corporations capitalizing on the incarceration of our immigrant communities," the organizers wrote online earlier this week. "We will be rallying outside of the Broward Transitional Center, a privately owned immigration detention center, to call for an end to the profiteering of immigrant lives."

GEO Group (previously known as Wackenhut) is a powerful firm in both Florida and D.C. politics. The corporation rains money on political candidates across the state, from Sen. Marco Rubio to gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam to a good number of Florida Democrats. In the meantime, the firm has been sued for allegedly forcing immigrants to work for food and supplies, accused of operating a Colorado facility where detainees were tortured, and had multiple immigrant detainees die inside its facilities. GEO also has close ties to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and dumped cash into Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

The Broward Transitional Center also has seen its fair share of protests. In 2012, New Times published a profile of two undocumented activists who infiltrated the center and reported what they said were abysmal conditions. New Times later toured the facility alongside an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson.

After protests, sit-ins, a detainee hunger strike, and news of one detainee being raped with a Sharpie marker became public, 22 Democratic members of Congress demanded ICE conduct a "thorough, case-by-case review" of every immigrant detained at the facility.

Protests Planned Today at Broward's Privately Run Immigrant-Detention CenterEXPAND
Eflatmajor7th / Wikimedia Commons

This past May, ThinkProgress and New Times each detailed the case of Mary Caceres, an undocumented woman with a "Dreamer" daughter living in Jacksonville. Caceres had finally obtained a valid work visa this year before ICE detained her for no reason and shipped her all over the state, her daughter said. Caceres wound up at the Broward Transitional Center.

"To me, they’re profiting off her being there," her daughter, Daniela Gaona, told New Times. "We have to pay for her commissary. Just for her to call me, it costs $20 for like 20 minutes."

But at least in some political circles, it's becoming too politically toxic to accept donations from GEO anymore. The Florida civil rights group Dream Defenders has launched anti-private-prison campaigns this year, and a huge number of Democratic candidates across Florida have signed the group's "Freedom Pledge" to refuse private-prison cash. That list includes every major Democratic candidate for Florida governor.

Update: Protesters today unfurled anti-ICE and anti-GEO Group banners around Florida. Demonstrators also briefly blocked large roads near the detention center:

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.