ICE considers new detention center in South Florida

(SUN SENTINEL)   For now the area is just empty lots near the corner of Redland Road and Lucille Drive just south of Florida City in southernmost Miami-Dade County.

But that is where officials could one day build one of the country’s largest immigrant detention centers if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement decides that the site is the best for a facility that would house at least 1,800 foreign nationals facing deportation.

The project surprised neighbors in the area, home to a large a large number of immigrants. “I knew nothing about this,” said Jesus Sierra, a Cuban immigrant whose house would face the future detention center, if it’s built there.

Currently, the total number of detainees in ICE in the country at any given time is about 30,000.

The construction of a large detention center in South Florida would increase ICE’s detention capacity in the region. For now, the well-known Krome detention center in west Miami-Dade houses between 500 and 600 detainees.

Florida City has been interested in the facility since 2009 when the issue was discussed during a city commission meeting.

Florida City Mayor Otis Wallace recently sent a letter to a Miami-Dade commissioner saying that the center would be built at a cost of about $150 million and would house up to 2,300 detainees.

ICE said the new detention center would have about 1,800 beds and would cost between $100 million and $200 million. A spokesman said a decision would be made within 120 days.,0,1670700.story

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