Activists defeat proposal to build new immigration detention center near Chicago, 2012

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Time Period:  
28 March
11 June
Location and Goals
United States
Location City/State/Province: 
Crete, Illinois
To ensure that the proposed immigrant detention center not be built in their town of Crete.

The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is a private company that receives government funding to run prison and detention centers for-profit. The CCA’s immigrant detention centers are notorious for particularly bad living conditions.

In the summer of 2011, some community members of Crete, Illinois, near Chicago, learned of a plan to establish a CCA detention center in the southern suburbs of their city. Concetta Smart heard of the plan from the Restorative Justice Committee of the Joliet Roman Catholic Diocese. Smart worked with members of the Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants to organize a house meeting. In November 50 people attended the meeting and formed Concerned Citizens of Crete and Surrounding Communities.

In February earlier that year, legislation had been introduced in the Illinois State Senate opposing private companies such as CCA, in the form of Senate Bill 1064. If passed, SB 1064 would prevent private prison companies from carrying out detention functions. Concerned Communities joined the effort to get the legislation passed in the Illinois General Assembly, which consisted of both a senate and a house of representatives.

By 28 March 2012, SB 1064 passed in the Senate and arrived in the House. Concerned Citizens initiated a door-to-door petition drive to support the bill, framing the center as something that would lower their property values.

On 30 March, Concerned Citizens, in conjunction with the Moratorium on Deportations Campaign and No Name Collective, organized a three-day march from the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission in Chicago to the proposed building site in the suburbs of Crete. The march culminated on 1 April, when the organization held a rally at the building site and organization leaders, as well as US Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., spoke.

Following the march and rally, Rep. Jackson Jr. announced that he would hold a town hall meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on 21 May. The meeting was postponed, however, due to alleged security concerns posed by the presence of NATO protestors (not directly related to detention center protestors).

In response to the announcement that the meeting was to be postponed, Moratorium for Deportation and the Concerned Citizens organized a march from Union Park to ICE headquarters office. The anti-detention center protestors alone comprised about 100 people, but as word of action spread they were joined by protesters from the Occupy Chicago movement as well as some anti-NATO protesters. They were able to successfully shut down rush-hour traffic with their march and the event culminated with a sit-down in front of ICE headquarters where protesters demanded “No borders, no cages, and no Crete prison.”

Large numbers of police officers were present, but simply stood by and observed.

On 11 June the Board of Trustees voted to end negotiations with the CCA. The detention center was not built.

Research Notes
Olzen, Jake. "Prison and Immigrant Activists Celebrate Victory over ICE Detention Center / Waging Nonviolence - People-Powered News and Analysis." Waging Nonviolence RSS. WordPress, 28 June 2012. Web. Dec. 2012.

"ICIRR." ICIRR. Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, n.d. Web. Dec. 2012.

"No Crete Detention Center 2 | Facebook." Facebook. Moratorium on Deprtations, n.d. Web. Dec. 2012.

"Illinois General Assembly - Bill Status for 1064." Illinois General Assembly - Bill Status for 1064. Illinois General Assembl, n.d. Web. Dec. 2012.

Gallardo, Michelle. "March to Crete Ends with Rally against Prison." ABC Inc., 1 Apr. 2012. Web. Dec. 2012.

García-Rojas, Claudia. "Hundreds Protest I.C.E. and Call on Them to Stop Racist Practices." Chicago Indymedia. Global IMC Network, 22 May 2012. Web. Dec. 2012.

Moulesong, Bob. "Opponents of Proposed Crete Detention Center Vow to Keep Fighting after Bill's Defeat.", 02 June 2012. Web. Dec. 2012.

Moratorium on Deportations Campaign. "SHUT DOWN I.C.E.- CONTINUES March to ICE Headquarters!" Moratorium on Deportations Campaign. WordPress, 21 May 2012. Web. Dec. 2012.

Pax Joliet. "Community Gathers to Learn about Proposed Immigrant Prison." Peace and Justice News, Events, Features, Joliet Diocese. Peace and Social Justice Ministry, n.d. Web. Dec. 2012.

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. "Why Illinois Needs SB 1064." Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, n.d. Web. Dec. 2012.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Patricia Gutiérrez, 05/12/2012