Last year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) selected a Chicago suburb, the village of Crete, as a site to build a new federal immigration detention center. The village board of trustees voted unanimously on Monday night to withdraw the plan from consideration.
According to immigration officials, the plan was for the new medium-security detention facility to be a more humane approach to hold low-risk foreign nationals prior to deportation. Village officials saw the new facility as a way to create jobs to its community of about 8,000 people.
Yet, the proposed facility lacked community support. Residents believed that the facility’s presence would reduce property values by turning the village into a prison town and would create a security risk as well. A petition opposing the facility collected more than 1,500 signatures.
Village residents and immigration rights activists, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, conducted months of protests demanding that the village put a stop to the proposed detention center. Protests involved appearances that flooded village council meetings, and on one memorable occasion, a 35 mile march from Chicago to the proposed site in Crete.
The 800 bed facility was planned to be built by The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the biggest private prison company in the United States. CCA also planned to run the facility. This also caused controversy as opponents remarked that private corporations would want to keep incarceration levels high in order to keep profits up.