Dwight community battles against private immigrant prison despite efforts by the Mayor to greenlight the proposal and stifle opposition

For Immediate Release: 
Saturday, March 9, 2019
Ahead of Monday’s decision, a weekend community information session was cancelled

Dwight, IL — Community members of Dwight expressed shock upon learning of the cancellation of today’s information session at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church regarding a massive detention center proposal, even as opposition to the proposal continues to grow.

“Detention, no matter how nicely it is portrayed, is still inhumane. Treating the stranger in this manner is not supported by any major faith,” said Melanie Schikore, Executive Director of the Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants, an organization that provides pastoral care to immigrants in detention. “It is heartbreaking to think that the good people of Dwight would consider this facility which will mean heartbreak and suffering for the very ones we are commanded to care for.”

The proposal by private prison company, Immigration Centers of America (ICA), would more than double the number of immigrants that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detains in the region as a part of the Trump administration’s massive expansion of the deadly and abusive immigration detention system. This comes with the recent announcement by JP Morgan Chase & Co that they will stop financing for-profit private prison and detention center contractors.

“ICE’s immigration detention system has been proven, time and time again, to perpetuate a culture of abuse and secrecy,” said Gabriela Marquez-Benitez, Membership Director of Detention Watch Network. “Earlier this week Dwight Mayor, Jared Anderson, revealed that he has been in communication with ICA about the proposal for the past two years, which is infuriating given ICE’s shameful track record. His complete lack of transparency regarding his communication with ICA underscores that he is not interested in a meaningful dialogue with community members and is choosing instead to ignore the community outcry to tank the proposal.”

The decision to cancel this planned information session is a clear display of censorship and lack of transparency ahead of the Village Board's vote set for Monday. The previous Village Board meeting on February 25 overflowed with community members voicing their opposition to the proposal, which followed the planning commission meeting on February 19 that heard over three hours of public comments mostly opposing the detention center. Two of the planning commission members have refused to support the proposal.

“Immigrant rights advocates and the Department of Homeland Security’s own Office of Inspector General alike have repeatedly documented fatal medical care, abusive treatment and serious problems with the grievance and inspections protocol within ICE detention,” said Fred Tsao, senior policy counsel at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “This proposal does not reflect the Dwight community’s values. Any promise of economic prosperity is a false solution to economic growth — the Village Board must reject immigration detention for the Dwight community.”

Despite the cancellation of the information session, community advocates still plan to be present to provide materials and information for those who may show.


#NoICEDwight - We are a coalition of various Illinois based organizations against the proposed 1,200 bed detention center by Immigration Centers of America’s in Dwight, IL and of any other expansion of immigration detention in our region. https://www.facebook.com/pg/NoICEDwight

Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit www.detentionwatchnetwork.org. Follow @DetentionWatch.