Illinois Town Bucks Protests and Seeks Immigrant Detention Center: Jobs and Increased Property Values

MISSION, TX - APRIL 11: Undocumented immigrants from El Salvador sit handcuffed after being detained by the U.S. Border Patrol near the U.S.-Mexico border on April 11, 2013 near Mission, Texas. A group of 16 immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador said they crossed the Rio Grande River from Mexico …
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Despite protesters claiming that keeping migrants in detention centers while they await immigration hearings, a small town 80 miles southwest of Chicago, the Dwight Planning Commission recommended to the Village Board that work with a private company to open a facility that could hold up to 1,200 men.

The local Pantagraph newspaper reported: 

The vote came after the commission heard three hours of testimony Tuesday night from immigrants, attorneys, a former police officer, and others in “the longest public hearing we’ve ever had,” said a village official at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church’s parish hall.

The three issues up for discussion were the petition for annexation of an 88-acre tract near Interstate 55 and Illinois 17 just outside the Livingston County village; a zoning application to use the land for industrial purposes; and an annexation agreement between the village and the Immigration Centers of America (ICA).

The commission voted in favor of each measure, with a unanimous vote for the petition and 3-2 votes for the zoning application and annexation agreement.

Despite the negative narrative in the leftist media about detention centers being constructed to handle the thousands of migrants flowing into the country, officials from ICA spoke at the meeting about the benefits the facility would bring to the community.

“It will result in two new roadways,” Cortina said. “It will result in two miles of a main sewer interceptor line.”

“It will have approximately 280 jobs that it’ll bring to your community,” Cortina said, adding that the center would be much like a center his company manages in Farmville, Virginia, calling it “the Cadillac of detention centers.”

ICA estimated jobs at the center could pay as much as $73,000 a year.

He said doors remain open in facilities because any immigrant with a criminal record would not be allowed to stay there but would instead be held in a jail setting.

ICA Chief Operating Officer Duane Ragsdale said at the meeting the detention centers are “a compassionate, humane alternative” to jailing.

The Pantagraph reported that 100 people attended the meeting and the commission heard three hours of testimony.

Some who spoke disagreed with the detention center officials’ accounts.

“Nobody should profit from human misery, and no community should welcome a for-profit immigration prison,” Fred Tsao, senior policy counsel at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said at the meeting.

Before the meeting protesters stood outside the church where it was held carrying signs that read “Do what’s right; no ICE in Dwight,” referring to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency that would work with ICA at the center.

“The Village Board will vote on the matter on Monday,” the Pantagraph reported.

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