Officials quash plan for immigrant detention center in south suburbs
BY MATTHEW BRUCE Sun-Times Media June 12, 2012 4:14PM
FILE - In this April 11, 2012 file photo, an anti-detention sign is seen outside a home in Crete, Ill. Officials in Crete voted unanimously Monday, June 11, 2012, to reject a plan to build an immigrant detention center in the village. Plans for the detention center had led to protests by Crete residents and immigrant rights activists. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)
Updated: June 12, 2012 4:14PM
A proposed immigrant detention center to be built in Crete would have brought jobs, tax revenue and more humane treatment of detainees, supporters said.
But there seemed to be a protest for every promise. So Crete officials this week voted to pull the plug and withdraw the village from consideration as a site for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility.
Village administrator Tom Durkin cited a lack of financial assurances from the private company that was to build and operate the center.
“The comfort level wasn’t there,” Durkin said Tuesday. “We kind of nailed down that last piece of the puzzle, about what the financial expectations were.
“Whether real or perceived, I don’t think the board wanted to put the village in a position where it may not be beneficial to the village in the long run from a liability standpoint or a financial standpoint,” he said.
Durkin said the village plans to release a full report disclosing the steps Crete officials took in evaluating the project.
The decision came nearly a year after Crete officials acknowledged the village had been selected as a tentative site for the center. The village and a private company, Corrections Corporation of America, had submitted a proposal to the federal agency in November 2010, Durkin said.
Critics said Crete shouldn’t become a “prison” town, that property values would drop and that village officials weren’t transparent about the process. Immigrants’ rights groups also participated in marches and protests alongside Crete residents.
The facility would have housed illegal immigrants for as they awaited deportation. Crete was selected by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in July as a possible location for the detainee camp, which would have been operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Officials planned to build the 775-bed facility at a three-acre undeveloped site along Hartman Drive just south of Burville Road.