Protestors finally got their way when a suburban Chicago town terminated plans to build a federal immigrant detention center. Residents and activists for immigration rights fought the project for months.
These voices have spoken loudly and clearly that we do not want a new immigration detention center in Crete, that breaking up immigrant families is wrong, and that companies like CCA that profit from detaining people are not welcome in our communities.
- Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
On Monday night, village trustees in Crete, located 35 miles south of Chicago, said "No" across the board to the project’s continuation, Crete President Michael Einhorn said.
Einhorn initially saw potential in the center to create hundreds of jobs for the people in the community but, even so, many were against the proposal.
Immigration officials had promoted the proposed facility as a new, more humane place to hold low-risk undocumented immigrants slated for deportation. But residents worried that the center would depress their property values and pose a security threat.
"There hasn't been community support for a while," village trustee Daniel Bachert told the Chicago Tribune.
Officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, picked Crete as a potential site for the facility last year, Einhorn said. The plan was to hire a private prison management company called Corrections Corporation of America to build and operate a medium-security facility to house more than 700 immigrants awaiting deportation.
"Up into the very end, I think everybody including myself was on the fence about this one," Einhorn told the Tribune.
The idea of a private company running such a facility also triggered criticism from groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which says such companies try to maintain high levels of incarceration to increase profits.
In one memorable protest, activists marched for 35 miles from Chicago to the site in Crete. Protesters also flooded village council meetings.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which organized many of the rallies, applauded the village for listening to the protesters.
"These voices have spoken loudly and clearly that we do not want a new immigration detention center in Crete, that breaking up immigrant families is wrong, and that companies like CCA that profit from detaining people are not welcome in our communities," the group said.