March to Crete ends with rally against prison

April 1, 2012 8:48:50 PM PDT
A three-day march from Chicago to south suburban Crete ended Sunday with a rally.

The protestors are against the proposed building of a detention center that would temporarily hold those accused of being in this country illegally.

On the last day of their walk, the group of nearly 100 protesters converged on the piece of open farmland where a proposed 788-bed detention facility for undocumented immigrants might be built.

The group kicked off their walk in Little Village on Friday in hopes that their journey will bring attention to the matter. They oppose the construction because, among other things, it would be a privately run facility that requires a 90 percent occupancy to operate.

According to the Department of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the proposed facility "marks another important step in the agency's long-term effort to reform the immigration detention system and would be a consolidated facility that affords detainees greater access to counsel, family members and consular offices."

"They're trying to paint it as a new product and make it seem nice for the families that are going to be incarcerated here," said Carmela Garcia, of the Moratorium on Deportation Campaign.

Though The Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said the facility is meant to consolidate their operations, some believe it would actually promote a further crackdown on undocumented immigrants. U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was among those protesting.

"The idea that we would separate, detain them and separate families and criminalize this process is an un-American as it can get," U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

It's not just pro immigrant groups that are against the facility. Many in Crete oppose it as well. Some residents said they were not told about it until recently and many said they don't want what amounts to a prison in their backyard.

"When small towns have a prison come to their town, it causes the unemployment rate to go up and it causes the property values to go down," Crete resident MariMonica Murray said.

Crete's Village administrator said a final decision has not been made.

Hearings on the issue are set to begin later this month.