Today, the Illinois Senate passed SB 1064, Senator Antonio Munoz’s bill to bar the State, counties, and municipalities from contracting with private companies to run civil detention centers. SB 1064 passed the Illinois Senate by a vote of 34-17. This bill would block an immigration detention center being proposed for Crete, in the south Chicago suburbs. The bill now goes to the Illinois House.
“We thank Senator Munoz for his leadership, and the Illinois Senate for its strong stance against privatization of detention,” said Fred Tsao, policy director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).
This legislation comes as the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s most notorious builder and operator of private prisons, has targeted Crete as the site of a new detention facility that would house 600 – 700 federal immigration detainees. SB 1064 would bar municipalities like Crete from partnering with companies like CCA on such civil detention facilities. “Introducing the profit motive into detention can only lead to neglect and abuse of detainees and poor working conditions for staff,” said Bernie Kopera, co-chair of Concerned Citizens of Crete and Surrounding Communities, which has led the fight against the Crete facility. “CCA has a long record of inflicting such abuses while making enormous profits. No one should be profiteering off human misery.”
Ilinois law already bars the State and local governments from contracting with private companies to build and run correctional facilities. As this existing Illinois law states, jailing people is a “uniquely governmental function.” SB 1064 would extend this decades-old public policy to civil detention settings. “Maintaining public control of detention ensures that facilities where individuals are detained in the name of the people remain accountable to us and can answer for any abuse or mistreatment of detainees,” Tsao added.
The Crete center is one of the several facilities that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seeks to build throughout the US. During each of the last three years, ICE has deported nearly 400,000 immigrants, most of whom have no criminal record. As it ramps up deportations, ICE is also planning more detention space to hold the people it catches – even though many of these individuals pose no threat and can be safely released. “Building more detention facilities like Crete will only further drive enforcement activity to fill these spaces–and separate even more immigrant families,” said Concetta Smart, the other co-chair of Concerned Citizens of Crete and Surrounding Communities.
Other supporters of this legislation include the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants, the Catholic Conference of Illinois, Heartland Alliance of Human Needs and Human Rights, Project IRENE, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, and AFSCME Council 31, UFCW, Chicago Workers Collaborative, SEIU, United Electrical Workers (UE), and ARISE Chicago.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is a statewide coalition of more than 130 organizations dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society. For more information, visit www.icirr.org.