WBEZ | CCA http://www.wbez.org/tags/cca Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Biggert, Foster sidestep immigrant detention-center project http://www.wbez.org/news/biggert-foster-sidestep-joliet-immigrant-detention-center-project-103508 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Elisa_Chombo_CROP.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 360px; width: 250px; " title="Elisa Chombo of Joliet signs a petition against the detention center at a Monday night forum. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert and her Democratic challenger, Bill Foster, are locking horns in one of the nation&rsquo;s most competitive House races, but both are trying to sidestep a brewing controversy over something President Barack Obama&rsquo;s administration is talking about bringing to the district: a privately run immigrant detention center.</p><p>The project came to light last week when an official of Joliet, a city 40 miles southwest of Chicago, said he had had talks with federal officials and Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America. The Joliet official, City Manager Thomas Thanas, said the detention center could generate hundreds of jobs and city revenue.</p><p>The project is not going over well with Latino groups that organized a candidate forum Monday night at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a Joliet church. The forum&rsquo;s moderator tried to ask the 11th Congressional District candidates whether they would help fight the project.</p><p>The response from Foster, a former U.S. representative, elicited nods from the roughly 200 audience members at points. &ldquo;For-profit incarceration is something that I am personally quite leery of,&rdquo; Foster said. &ldquo;We have an immigration system that depends way too heavily on incarceration and deportation.&rdquo;</p><p>But Foster said it was too early for him to make a decision about the detention center. &ldquo;I want to see the details of it,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So the answer is, I&rsquo;m waiting and seeing.&rdquo;</p><p>Biggert, the race&rsquo;s Republican, did not attend the forum. She sent a spokesman, who read a campaign statement that did not answer the moderator&rsquo;s question. &ldquo;Congresswoman Biggert would strongly oppose the federal government coming in and mandating what Joliet should or should not do,&rdquo; the spokesman told the crowd. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s really, ultimately, Joliet&rsquo;s decision.&rdquo;</p><p>Hours before the forum, WBEZ asked the Biggert campaign whether she would back a privately built and operated immigrant detention center in the district. The campaign sent the statement and did not answer the question.</p><p>Joliet&rsquo;s project follows a setback for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and CCA in south suburban Crete, where the agency wanted the company to build and run the detention center.</p><p>A political tide against the Crete project rose in January, when rivals in the area&rsquo;s Democratic House primary &mdash; U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his challenger, former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson &mdash; both sided against it. Village trustees rejected the plan in June.</p></p> Tue, 30 Oct 2012 02:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/biggert-foster-sidestep-joliet-immigrant-detention-center-project-103508 Joliet detention-center talks include private prison firm http://www.wbez.org/news/joliet-detention-center-talks-include-private-prison-firm-103436 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CCA_hall.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px; " title="CCA owns and operates Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. The facility is one of many in which the company holds detainees for ICE. (AP File/Kate Brumback)" />A top Joliet official says his talks exploring possibilities for an immigrant detention center in the city have included the nation&rsquo;s largest private prison operator.</p><p>City Manager Thomas Thanas told WBEZ he had engaged in a &ldquo;preliminary conversation&rdquo; with officials of Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America to see &ldquo;whether Joliet might be a suitable site&rdquo; for a facility that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement wants in the Chicago area.</p><p>Thanas declined to say when and where the conversation took place or what details were discussed. &ldquo;We have not reviewed plans,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Nothing has been filed on a formal basis.&rdquo;</p><p>Joliet officials are &ldquo;not talking about any specific sites at this point,&rdquo; Thanas said. He added that &ldquo;a facility like this could not be located near a residential area, schools or a commercial district.&rdquo;</p><p>Thanas referred questions about site possibilities to CCA, whose spokesman referred inquiries to ICE, which declined to discuss the Joliet project.</p><p>The federal agency sent a statement that said building a Chicago-area detention center would help improve immigrant confinement conditions and enable &ldquo;locating detainees closer to where they are apprehended so that they can be near their families, community resources and the ICE field office.&rdquo;</p><p>What would Joliet get? &ldquo;Hundreds of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs,&rdquo; Thanas said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m always interested in projects that have an opportunity to create jobs and revenues for our school district.&rdquo;</p><p>Federal officials met with Thanas about the project October 17 in Washington, he said. &ldquo;It was a fact-gathering opportunity for both them and me.&rdquo;</p><p>Thanas also briefed some City Council members about the detention-center possibility.</p><p>But officials managed to keep the project out of public view until the Chicago Tribune revealed it late Wednesday. Within hours, some Joliet activists and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights began organizing opposition.</p><p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t believe you should be making a profit off of tearing families apart because they&rsquo;re undocumented,&rdquo; said Richard Rodríguez, a Joliet resident who chairs the Mexican American Coalition of Will County. &ldquo;There should be comprehensive immigration reform. Address the issue properly.&rdquo;</p><p>Thanas replied that national immigration policy was not Joliet&rsquo;s business. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a matter of federal concern,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Joliet&rsquo;s nine City Council members on Thursday declined to comment or did not return messages about the project.<br /><br />The Joliet talks follow a highly publicized setback for ICE and CCA in south suburban Crete, where the agency wanted the company to build and run a 788-bed detention center. Village trustees rejected the plan June 11 after months of protests by residents, human-rights advocates and public-sector unions.</p><p>CCA had greater success in Springfield. The company lobbied against Illinois legislation that would have banned government agencies at the local and state levels from contracting with private firms to build or run civil detention centers. The bill passed the Senate in March but stalled after a series of close House floor votes May 31.</p></p> Fri, 26 Oct 2012 05:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/joliet-detention-center-talks-include-private-prison-firm-103436 Crete trustees reject detention center plan http://www.wbez.org/news/crete-trustees-reject-detention-center-plan-100006 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CreteCouple.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 233px; height: 258px;" title="Village residents in April marched against the project, in which Corrections Corporation of America would have held detainees for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (WBEZ/Charlie Billups)" /></div><p><em>Updated with reactions from ICE and an immigrant advocate June 12 at 4:47 p.m.</em></p><p>After months of rancor among its leaders and residents, a Chicago suburb has rejected a plan by the country&rsquo;s largest private prison operator to build and run an immigrant detention center.</p><p>A unanimous voice vote of Crete&rsquo;s six trustees Monday night ended village negotiations with Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America. The vote came just hours after an unsuccessful negotiating session between Crete and CCA officials. Village President Michael Einhorn said the vote blocks the project &ldquo;as of now.&rdquo;</p><p>The decision thrilled residents who have campaigned against the plan since last fall. &ldquo;When lots of little people get together, it&rsquo;s possible that the big guns will listen,&rdquo; said Marimonica Murray, a leader of the group Concerned Citizens of Crete, which led opposition to the detention center.</p><p>Under the proposal, Crete would have contracted with CCA, which would have owned the medium-security facility and held more than 700 foreign nationals awaiting deportation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.</p><p>Crete officials say they first learned about the project from CCA in 2010. ICE announced last summer that the federal agency had &ldquo;tentatively selected&rdquo; Crete for the facility.</p><p>Village officials touted the potential for scores of permanent jobs. They also talked up expected taxes and per-detainee payments for the village.</p><p>But the proposal met stiff resistance from Crete residents worried that the detention center would drag down property values, stretch village services too thin and threaten public safety. Those residents aligned with immigrant advocates who said CCA treated its detainees and workers poorly. The company disputed those claims.</p><p>Illinois legislation that would have derailed the project sailed through the Senate in March. The bill would have banned government agencies at the local and state levels from contracting with private firms to build or run civil detention centers. A close House floor vote last month defeated the measure.</p><p>After Crete trustees turned down the planned detention center, a written statement from company spokesman Steven Owen called the outcome &ldquo;disappointing to the taxpayers, job seekers and local businesses that stood to benefit from this economic boost.&rdquo; The statement said the company &ldquo;will continue to work closely with ICE in meeting their needs in the region.&rdquo;</p><p>A statement Tuesday from President Barack Obama&rsquo;s administration says ICE will review proposals for a detention center elsewhere in the Chicago area. The statement says a facility would help improve the confinement conditions and &ldquo;allow for some consolidation of detainees closer to their place of apprehension and immigration proceedings.&rdquo;</p><p>Fred Tsao, policy director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said the administration instead ought to use its Crete setback as an opportunity to allow more immigration violators to remain in their homes. &ldquo;Why is ICE keeping these thousands of people in detention at great expense to taxpayers when many of these individuals pose no threat to the community?&rdquo; Tsao asked.</p></p> Mon, 11 Jun 2012 22:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/crete-trustees-reject-detention-center-plan-100006 Proposal to ban private detention centers stumbles http://www.wbez.org/news/proposal-ban-private-detention-centers-stumbles-99719 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Dennis_RebolettiCROPPEDSCALED.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 211px; height: 323px;" title="Illinois Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R- Elmhurst, argues against the bill on the House floor Thursday. (AP/Seth Perlman)" /></div><p><em>Updated Friday, June 1, at 12:30 a.m.</em></p><p>A bill that would have blocked an immigrant detention center near Chicago failed Thursday in a series of close Illinois House floor votes as lawmakers raced to adjourn for the summer.</p><p>Parliamentary moves by the bill&rsquo;s chief sponsor, Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago), kept the bill alive late into the evening. In one roll call, the measure came within one vote of the 60 needed for passage. A 57-58 roll call, with two members voting present, defeated the bill.</p><p>The legislation would have banned government agencies at the local and state levels from contracting with private firms to build or run civil detention centers. It would have thwarted a proposal for Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America to construct and operate a 788-bed facility in the village of Crete, a suburb 30 miles south of Chicago. The facility would hold detainees for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.</p><p>Sen. Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago) pushed the bill, <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=1064&amp;GAID=11&amp;DocTypeID=SB&amp;SessionID=84&amp;GA=97">SB1064</a>, through the Senate in March. Gov. Pat Quinn&rsquo;s office said he would sign the measure if it reached his desk.&nbsp;</p><p>As the House took it up, however, Springfield-based Dorgan-McPike &amp; Associates lobbied hard for CCA. Other opposition to the measure came from immigration enforcement proponents and building-trades unions eager for the Crete project&rsquo;s construction jobs.</p><p>The bill&rsquo;s supporters countered with an amendment aimed at winning votes from downstate representatives. The amendment would have allowed Tri-County Justice and Detention Center to keep its private operator, Paladin Eastside Psychological Services. That facility, located in Ullin, holds ICE detainees.</p><p>During a 25-minute House floor debate on the bill Thursday afternoon, Acevedo pointed out that the Crete construction jobs would be temporary and that the project&rsquo;s permanent jobs could come at the expense of facilities that hold ICE detainees in other parts of Illinois.</p><p>&ldquo;The people of Crete, who you would think would be the most eager for these jobs, overwhelmingly do not want this facility,&rdquo; Acevedo said. &ldquo;They see the facility will place huge burdens on the community &mdash; traffic, police and other costs &mdash; as well as abuse that a private prison company could bring.&rdquo;</p><p>Acevedo pointed to a deadly riot this month at CCA-operated Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez, Mississippi.</p><p>But Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst) brought up Indiana, an Illinois neighbor that allows CCA to operate a county jail in Indianapolis. &ldquo;Isn&rsquo;t it possible that if we do pass this law that this company could simply go into Indiana &mdash; locate the same facility and house the same detainees we would in Crete &mdash; just across the border?&rdquo;</p><p>A written statement from CCA spokesman Mike Machak called the bill&rsquo;s failure &ldquo;an important step in realizing the Obama administration&rsquo;s vision for detention, which provides detainees awaiting civil proceedings with a humane and appropriate environment.&rdquo;</p><p>The bill&rsquo;s supporters offered a different interpretation. &ldquo;This was a David and Goliath fight,&rdquo; Lawrence Benito, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said in a statement. &ldquo;Though we were able to add new Republican votes, many Democrats showed deep disrespect for the immigrant families in their own districts.&rdquo;</p><p>Crete officials have yet to approve the detention center but have touted the jobs potential. They have also talked up expected taxes and per-detainee payments for the village.</p></p> Thu, 31 May 2012 17:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/proposal-ban-private-detention-centers-stumbles-99719 Backers of detention center bill race against clock http://www.wbez.org/news/backers-detention-center-bill-race-against-clock-99614 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Crete_protest_at_DAmico.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 238px; height: 281px;" title="Protesters at the district office of Rep. John D’Amico, D-Chicago, demand that he back the measure. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></div><p>Supporters of an Illinois bill that would block a proposed Chicago-area immigrant detention center are racing against the clock as lawmakers try to adjourn for the summer by Thursday.</p><p>The measure, <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=1064&amp;GAID=11&amp;DocTypeID=SB&amp;SessionID=84&amp;GA=97">SB1064</a>, would ban government agencies at the local and state level from contracting with private firms to construct or run civil detention centers. It would broaden a decades-old Illinois ban on privately built or operated state prisons and county jails.</p><p>It would also scuttle a proposal for south suburban Crete to contract with Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America to build and run a 788-bed facility that would hold detainees for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.</p><p>The Senate approved the bill March 28. The House Executive Committee followed suit May 2. Gov. Pat Quinn&rsquo;s office said he would sign the measure if it reached his desk.</p><p>But the bill&rsquo;s House sponsors, led by Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago), have not lined up the 60 votes they would need to ensure a win on the floor of their chamber.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re close,&rdquo; said Fred Tsao, policy director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, who is lobbying for the measure.</p><p>The bill could get caught in a legislative logjam as lawmakers try to pass a state budget and get out of Springfield. The measure is also hitting some turbulence that crosses party lines. Some House members say they&rsquo;ll oppose anything in the way of tougher immigration enforcement. Others are wary of upsetting unions whose members could help build and operate the Crete facility.</p><p>John Scheidt, president of the Will and Grundy County Building Trades Council, testified before the House committee that the project would bring 200 permanent jobs. &ldquo;That would be almost $12 million in annual payroll that would be generated out of this facility,&rdquo; Scheidt said.</p><p>Tsao&rsquo;s group helped organize a protest late Friday at the district office of Rep. John D&rsquo;Amico (D-Chicago), who accepts a lot of campaign funding from building-trades unions. &ldquo;He told us in Springfield he opposes the bill because the project is a jobs generator,&rdquo; Tsao said.</p><p>D&rsquo;Amico did not return calls about the measure.</p><p>Crete officials have yet to approve the detention center but have touted the jobs as well as tax benefits and expected per-detainee payments to the village.</p><p>Those officials have gotten an earful from some Crete residents convinced that the facility would drag down their property values and stretch village resources. They&rsquo;ve aligned with immigrant advocates who say CCA treats its detainees and workers poorly &mdash; a claim disputed by the company. The immigrant advocates also see the detention center as part of an enforcement push that has led to record numbers of deportations.</p><p>Crete residents almost got a chance to question immigration officials at a town-hall meeting that Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Luis Gutierrez were planning to host May 21 in a local school. But officials called off the gathering just hours in advance due to security concerns related to the NATO summit, they said. Rick Bryant, a Jackson aide, says the congressman&rsquo;s office is talking with ICE in hopes of setting a June date for the meeting.</p></p> Tue, 29 May 2012 12:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/backers-detention-center-bill-race-against-clock-99614 House committee passes bill blocking Crete detention center http://www.wbez.org/news/house-committee-passes-bill-blocking-crete-detention-center-98754 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cretemarch3.jpg" style="float: left; width: 317px; height: 288px;" title="Village resident Dan Taylor stands on the site of the proposed facility, which would hold detainees for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (WBEZ/Charlie Billups)"></div><p>A bill that would block a proposed immigrant detention center in south suburban Crete cleared another Illinois legislative hurdle Wednesday. The House Executive Committee approved the measure with a 7-4 vote, which could set up a debate on the House floor.</p><p>The bill, <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=1064&amp;GAID=11&amp;DocTypeID=SB&amp;SessionID=84&amp;GA=97">SB1064</a>, would make Illinois one of the nation’s first states to ban local governments and state agencies from contracting with private firms to build or run civil detention centers. Sponsored by Reps. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago) and Elizabeth Hernandez (D-Cicero), it would broaden an Illinois law banning privately built or operated state prisons and county jails.</p><p>The committee vote followed about 15 minutes of discussion. Rep. Michael Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) said he supported the bill because of excess capacity in a few Illinois prisons and detention centers. “I feel that a good use of these facilities may in fact be a contract with the U.S. Marshals and [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] for a detainment center in communities that want them.” Tryon said. “I certainly would encourage our governor’s office to look at use of our facilities before we allow construction of a new facility.”</p><p>The only speaker who voiced opposition to the bill was John Scheidt, president of the Will and Grundy County Building Trades Council, who said the Crete project would bring 200 permanent jobs. “That would be almost $12 million in annual payroll that would be generated out of this facility,” Scheidt said.</p><p>The 788-bed center would hold ICE detainees. To build and run it, that federal agency would contract with Crete, which would contract with Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America. Village officials have touted the project’s expected jobs and tax benefits but have yet to approve the facility.</p><p>Some village residents say the detention center would hurt their community. They’re working with immigrant advocates who say CCA treats its detainees and workers poorly. The company disputes that claim.</p><p>The bill could become a model for opponents of privately run detention centers in other states. But supporters of the legislation acknowledge that Illinois could not stop the federal government from contracting directly with private entities to build or run a detention center in the state.</p><p>The Senate approved the bill in a 34-17 vote March 28. In the House, some Republicans who support tough immigration enforcement have vowed to fight the measure. Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) has not announced a position on it.</p></p> Wed, 02 May 2012 17:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/house-committee-passes-bill-blocking-crete-detention-center-98754 Planned immigrant detention center roils Crete http://www.wbez.org/content/planned-immigrant-detention-center-roils-crete <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-10/Crete_couple_cropped.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="Gary and Joyce Freudenberg." class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-10/Crete_couple_cropped.JPG" style="margin: 9px 18px 5px 1px; float: left; width: 310px; height: 256px;" title="Gary and Joyce Freudenberg live in an unincorporated area just outside Crete. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)">Opposition to an immigrant detention center planned for south suburban Crete appears to be growing. About 150 area residents overflowed a Crete Township Hall meeting room Monday night to hear from critics of the project.</p><p>In recent days, meanwhile, both candidates in a tough Democratic primary battle for the area’s U.S. House seat have come out against the plan.</p><p>Immigrant advocates who led the meeting said federal officials are planning a medium-security facility holding foreign nationals awaiting deportation. The speakers voiced concern about the detainees’ human rights.</p><p>Crete residents raised their own issues. “We don’t have a fire department or police department here that can service that,” retiree Robert Hughes said after the meeting. “And if I ever go to sell my house again, who’s going to want to buy my house? I’ll be living three blocks away from the prison.”</p><p>Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced last summer that the agency had “tentatively selected” Crete for the facility, which would be run by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America. ICE on Monday sent a statement that says the village, the federal government and CCA are still working on details. “If and when a formal selection occurs, the appropriate notifications will be made,” the statement says.</p><p>Hughes and other Crete residents accused the village of trying to keep the plan a secret.</p><p>Village Administrator Tom Durkin said Crete officials learned about the 750-bed project from CCA in November 2010. He said the village board would hold a hearing before approving the plan: “It’s premature to bring anything to the public yet because, at this point, it’s an idea. It’s not a real project at this point.”</p><p>Durkin said the center would be built on farmland just southeast of Burville Road and Main Street, an intersection less than a mile from Crete Village Hall. He said the facility would generate property taxes and create more than 150 jobs.</p><p>The Democratic primary candidates include Debbie Halvorson, a Crete resident and former U.S. representative who announced her position on the detention center in a WBEZ interview after Monday night’s meeting.</p><p>“The fact that it’s being privately built and managed is one of the problems,” Halvorson said. “We’ve got 12 million people here illegally, they’re not going away, and we can’t keep building more detention centers.”</p><p>Halvorson’s stand followed a Friday statement from the incumbent, Jesse Jackson, Jr. “I don’t want the south suburbs to become famous for prisons and for breaking up families,” the statement says.</p><p><em>Correction: An earlier version of this report misquoted Crete Village Administrator Tom Durkin regarding the amount of property taxes the project could generate.</em></p></p> Tue, 10 Jan 2012 11:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/planned-immigrant-detention-center-roils-crete