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Measure advances to block immigrant detention facilities

Thursday, Mar 21, 2019

* AP

Trustees of a small village near Chicago are moving closer to allowing a private immigration detention center to be built in the area, despite pushback from activists and communities.

Dwight trustees last week voted to annex and rezone 88 acres (36 hectares) where Virginia-based Immigration Centers of America could build a detention center. The company must now secure a contract with the federal government by September 2020.

Village Board President Jared Anderson says the project could help stimulate the region’s economy by creating about 300 jobs. Dwight is about 80 miles southwest of downtown Chicago.

* Tribune

[Jared Anderson, the Dwight village board president] said pushback against the project has largely come from outside of Dwight. He estimates that he received about 100 emails about the project, but only five to seven of them were from Dwight residents. […]

Sonny Garcia, of Bloomington, Ill., who organized actions against the proposal, said area activists only learned about the plan in February from a local newspaper story. He said some Dwight residents told organizers they felt intimidated to voice their opinion in public.

* Pantagraph

About 300 people attended the [Dwight village board] meeting, which was moved to Dwight High School to accommodate the crowd. The audience included several opponents who gathered at the Amtrak station and marched to the high school.

While village President Jared Anderson previously spoke of economic benefits for the village, opponents spoke at the meeting against federal immigration policy and the role such a facility would play in it.

After the vote, opponents of the project shouted down the board, causing Anderson to abruptly call an end to the meeting.

They shouted obscenities at the board and several even approached board members. They were rebuffed by the increased police presence at the meeting.

* Press release…

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, advanced legislation to ban for-profit prisons today out of the House Labor and Commerce Committee, in an effort to block private immigration centers that have recently been approved in Illinois.

“We recently saw a resurgence of municipalities and local governments attempting to approve new for-profit and privately operated detention centers that would target immigrants,” Cassidy said. “Detention centers only confine those detained and cause more suffering to people who are going through one of the difficult times they will face in their life. The holding of a person, whether for a crime or for their immigration status, in a facility that will earn money for holding them is financially and morally irresponsible. For-profit detention centers focus on exactly the opposite of what we should be doing in our state, which is putting profits over the well- being, care, and basic rights of decency of people.”

Cassidy’s House Bill 2040 would prohibit the state or any unit of local government from operating private detention facilities, like those recently proposed to hold detained immigrants. Private, for-profit immigration centers have been attempted in four locations in Illinois. The legislation would also prohibit the entering of contracts, receiving payment or providing payment to a facility owned, managed or operated by a private company or person.

“Stopping these kinds of centers is about ensuring common dignity and humanity to people,” said state Rep. Elizabeth ‘Lisa’ Hernandez, D-Cicero. “There is no evidence that these types of facilities save any money, and often provide no oversight or specialized care to those held there. This bill is a major step in the right direction when it comes to protecting immigrants and providing the proper care that every person deserves.”

The legislation represents initiatives of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. It passed out of the House Labor and Commerce Committee Wednesday and awaits approval from the House as a whole.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

19 Comments
  1. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 10:08 am:

    I wonder what people near Dwight think of Trump blocking 55 million in congress approved military spending for downstate Illinois, including nearby Marseilles. That is going to eliminate a lot of jobs.


  2. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 10:10 am:

    This Dwight plan seems short-sighted. I’m sure the company is going to want tax breaks and other goodies from the city, but the city has to know places like this aren’t going to be doing lots of business after trump leaves office. Does Anderson believe a dem president or some other republican like Kasich is going to continue with trumps immigration obsession? Unless ICA agrees to pay the building costs and demands no sweet tax incentives, they might want to pass on this. One way or the other, in a few years they’re likely going to have a purpose-built facility sitting empty or operating at minimum capacity while the company continues to reap tax benefits.


  3. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 10:15 am:

    These for-profit detention centers are sickening. We can both enforce immigration laws and treat people with dignity and respect. Those are not mutually exclusive goals.


  4. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 10:29 am:

    === - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 10:23 am:

    Scott Air Force Base probably also employs people in the Dwight area. ===

    Do they fly back and forth every day?


  5. - Stormfield - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 10:31 am:

    I was there for the hearings when the Dwight prison was closed during the Quinn administration. It was brutal. The town cared about that prison and the jobs.

    Easy to criticize the locals, but this is a 4,000 person town that counted on that prison for economic stability. I have not been part of this process, but I’m sure they see this as a way to make up that local loss. Don’t think anybody in Dwight is trying to make a wider political statement here. Just trying to do the best they can with the opportunities in front of them.


  6. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 10:32 am:

    Sorry I meant Peoria Airport, not Scott Airforce Base,although that will be affected too.


  7. - lakeside - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 10:37 am:

    Hear the point, Stormfield, but, using Dwight’s example, it doesn’t seem like a great idea to base your entire town’s economy on requiring the incarceration of people. Let’s say that tomorrow there was a massive drop in unauthorized immigration - no one to fill up the beds. Then what?

    I’m grossed out by the idea of for-profit prisons and detention centers full stop. (And there’s a very slippery slope contained in, “well, we needed the jobs, so….”) But I’m also confused by Dwight’s decision to put all their eggs in a detention facility basket a second time.


  8. - Stormfield - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 10:52 am:

    lakeside:

    You’re right that diversification of economies is the right strategy, but in rural communities in the Midwest, that is much easier said than done. These communities are not presented with big investment/deals very often.

    To be candid, I’m with you. I think this type of facility is probably not a good idea for any number of reasons. But I don’t think that the locals are villains for seriously considering what for them is an opportunity that appears to have some symmetry with a recent gut-wrenching closure.


  9. - Last Bull Moose - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 10:54 am:

    A town of 4,000 does not have a very big basket. It can only hold a few eggs.

    We have not stopped the flow of illegal immigrants since Reagan granted amnesty in 1986. Why would we expect the flow to stop? Trump is too ignorant to devise and sell an effective plan to severely cut illegal immigration. Few others really want to try.

    I would prefer detention not be outsourced. But I don’t like giving police powers to civilians. The state could conduct inspections to make sure conditions were good.


  10. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 10:56 am:

    ==it doesn’t seem like a great idea to base your entire town’s economy on requiring the incarceration of people.==

    Or at least on immigrant detention. Does anyone really believe the number of immigrants incarcerated is not going to drop when trump leaves office? He’s the only one obsessed with doing this. The next president, whether dem or other republican, isn’t going to have this all-encompassing need to lock up folks for trying to cross the border. Likely that Dwight will give out a bunch of sweet incentives to get this built, only for it to sit empty a few years down the road when trump is gone. If ICA wants to foot the entire bill, sure, but I’d be very leery of how this is done if I were the town


  11. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 11:03 am:

    –We have not stopped the flow of illegal immigrants since Reagan granted amnesty in 1986. –

    Net decline since 2007.

    https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/11/28/5-facts-about-illegal-immigration-in-the-u-s/


  12. - Last Bull Moose - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 11:19 am:

    Slowing the inflow is not the same as stopping. There is a continuing inflow and outflow. The last few years have seen a net outflow. Low unemployment rates and higher wages could lead to that reversing.


  13. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 11:35 am:

    “We have not stopped the flow of illegal immigrants since Leif Erickson”

    Fixed it for ya.

    A private prison filled up with the employers of illegal aliens might actually slow illegal immigration. But private prisons are nexuses of waste, fraud and abuse, anyone can read up on them. Why invite more waste, fraud and abuse to Illinois? Wouldn’t that be moving backwards?


  14. - lakeside - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 11:48 am:

    I’m not suggesting the proponents in Dwight are villains, though I do disagree with their willingness to contribute to the immigration scheme being enacted by the federal government.

    It’s not easy to reorient a small town. But private prison companies have sued states when they don’t keep inmate numbers at quota. It’s heads they win, tails you lose. Watching small towns chase the next Foxconn is even worse than watching states give away subsidies to corporations - chiefly because it’s much harder for a small town than a state to pivot to something else if (when) it goes bad.


  15. - Scrivenin' - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 11:53 am:

    A lot of people don’t realize this, but Obama deported more people than either of his two predecessors. Detention facilities have been around since the 80s, mandatory since 1996. Family detention began in 2006. Egregious as it may be, this practice probably isn’t going anywhere soon. And if I’m a Chicago resident with a relative being held, It’d be better if that person is in Dwight (instead of, say, Missouri or Kentucky).


  16. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 12:45 pm:

    Does anyone really believe the number of immigrants incarcerated is not going to drop when trump leaves office?

    Sorry to let facts get in the way of your false narrative. I don’t recall representative Cassidy speaking out about the Obama administrations “morally irresponsible” immigration policy.

    Deportations under Trump are on the rise but still lower than Obama’s, ICE report shows

    In fact, U.S. deportation numbers were higher during the Obama administration, reaching 409,849 in 2012, according to ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations reports.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2018/12/14/deportations-under-trump-are-rise-still-lower-than-obamas-ice-report-shows/?utm_term=.ec4d9b22973a


  17. - njt - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 4:20 pm:

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/03/21/ice-sets-record-arrests-undocumented-immigrants-no-criminal-record/3232476002/

    “ICE agents have followed through. They have arrested an average of 4,219 undocumented immigrants without a criminal record each month of the Trump administration. In the final two years under Obama, the agents averaged 1,352 such arrests a month.”

    Please get better facts LP. Deportations are 1. based on federal funding given to ICE and 2. representative of the population. If less immigrants are crossing illegally, then there will be a smaller pool to deport from skewing the statistics.


  18. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 7:19 pm:

    == Just trying to do the best they can with the opportunities in front of them.==
    Agree. They should get that part of the $55 million which is theirs and forget a detention center that probably will be closed down before the foundation is poured.


  19. - Nonbeleiver - Friday, Mar 22, 19 @ 4:08 am:

    - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 21, 19 @ 11:03 am:

    –We have not stopped the flow of illegal immigrants since Reagan granted amnesty in 1986. –

    Net decline since 2007.

    Still have not come even close to stopping it as you well know. No one really knows how many come in each year but anything but a few thousand (never stop it all) only points out the lies of the 1986 Amnesty bill. And yet there are some so foolish as to want to have another amnesty.

    We all know the score on this issue. It’s just that some want illegal immigration


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