Upscale Fla. town in fight over immigrant prison

By LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ | November 19, 2011 | 12:30 PM EST

In this photo taken Tuesday, July 26, 2011, Diana Bramhall walks with one of her horses at her home in Southwest Ranches, Fla. Town leaders in this upscale rural enclave have plans to build a 1,500-bed detention center facility for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A growing group of residents from Southwest Ranches and neighboring cities are seeking to halt the effort. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

SOUTHWEST RANCHES, Fla. (AP) — In one of South Florida's upscale, rural enclaves town leaders decided to bring in much of their money from an unusual business: a prison.

Only the leaders of Southwest Ranches kept their plans quiet from residents for almost a decade, and the project has now ballooned into what would be among the federal government's largest immigrant detention centers.

Many residents finally caught wind of the idea this year, when U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement announced a tentative deal, and they're angry. They've held protests at public meetings and contemplated whether to recall the mayor before his March election. They've also considered amending the town charter to make it easier to fire the city attorney pushing the deal.