Crete Residents and Neighbors Protest Proposed Immigration Jail
ICE is proposing a 750-bed facility to house immigrants awaiting action on their deportation cases. ICE now deports 400,000 immigrants each year, more than ever before. For ICE, this record pace of enforcement has meant a greater need to hold immigrant detainees, even though nearly half have no criminal records and most pose no threat to the community. The Crete facility would be one of several large jails that ICE is proposing to build across the country, including in Florida, Texas, and New Jersey. The Crete facility would be run by the Corrections Corporation of America, a private, profit-driven corporation with a history of neglectful and abusive treatment of detainees in criminal and immigration detention.
Participants heard the testimony of Charles Bayo, who endured dangerously unsafe conditions during more than a year of immigration detention. They also heard from Sister JoAnn Persch of the Sisters of Mercy, who hears about the plight of detainees each week as she leads teams of religious volunteers to provide pastoral care to detainees at McHenry County Jail. Local leaders raised further concerns about the impact of a new jail on public safety, property values, and the local economy.
Many participants became so outraged at the proposed jail that they proceeded to the Crete Village Hall, where the mayor and trustees were meeting. The village board closed off their public session as the crowd started filling their meeting room. So far village officials have denied having any further information about the proposed jail.
The village board and planning council must approve any further agreements with ICE and CCA. Local residents were urged to contact their elected officials to urge their opposition to the jail. US Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. sent a staff member and issued a press statement opposing the jail, and former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (a Crete resident, now challenging Jackson for his Congressional seat) attended the meeting and voiced her opposition.
The Crete campaign is part of ICIRR’s ongoing advocacy for limiting the use of immigration detention and for broader reforms to enable hardworking immigrants to gain legal status and stay together with their families. For more information, please contact Fred Tsao at email@example.com.