Crete residents voice concerns over possible detention facility
By Bob Moulesong Times Correspondent | Posted: Tuesday, December 13, 2011
In July, the village was granted tentative approval as a potential site for a privately owned immigration detention facility. At that time, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency tentatively had selected an undisclosed industrial site in the village for a new-generation detention facility for the Chicago region.
“We were contacted by Corrections Corporation of America about a site in the village,” Village Administrator Thomas Durkin said. “The CCA told us they felt Crete had an excellent location in an industrial site for such a facility. We felt it was our responsibility to perform due diligence and investigate the possibility.”
Crete resident Concetta Smart told the board her concerns.
“There are many rumors going around the village that this is a done deal,” Smart said. “Many of us are concerned that village residents have not been asked for their input on this issue.”
Also on Monday, a new report was released detailing violations of human rights at three immigration detention centers in Illinois and Kentucky. The report recommended shutting down the centers and halting any new ones, including the proposed center in Crete.
The report, compiled by the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center and the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights, calls on the Obama administration to cut down on the number of immigrant detainees. It also seeks the closure of the three centers cited: Boone County Jail in Burlington, Ky.; Jefferson County Jail in Mount Vernon, Ill.; and the Tri-County Detention Center in Ullin, Ill.
The report alleges violations at the detention centers, including denial of detainees’ access to legal counsel, inadequate medical care and sparsity of hot meals.
Regarding the proposed Crete center, Village President Michael Einhorn told Smart and other residents the board did not have information to share at this time.
“CCA has not gotten back to us with any particulars,” Einhorn said. “We do not know of their plans. Several municipalities were contacted as potential sites. We do not know where CCA is in the process.”
CCA is a private company that would own and operate the detention center, working in conjunction with the federal immigration agency.
The proposed location is industrial land south of Burrville Road.
If the detention center became a reality, it could bring significant economic development to Crete, Durkin said.
“A facility like this has the potential to bring many jobs to Crete,” Durkin said. “It also has the potential to bring a significant amount of revenue from business property taxes.”
Durkin said the village has not made any decisions regarding the facility.
“This is in the very early stages of development,” Durkin said.
Einhorn said he would ensure facts were made available as soon as “they were facts.” He also said the village would hold public forums on the topic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.