Immigrant rights activists rally to block a ‘Guantanamo in the cornfields’
CRETE, ILLINOIS — More than 200 supporters of immigrant rights marched on Palm Sunday to the site of a proposed for-profit immigrant detention center in the small village south of Chicago. Local activists and area residents were joined by a coalition of Chicago-based organizations who set out on foot Friday, March 30, from Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission on 26th Street in Little Village. These activists, which included the Moratorium on Deportations campaign and the No Name Collective, walked to highlight the connection between capitalism and the criminalization of immigrants, the expansion and ‘cosmeticization’ of the prison industry, and the impact increased deportations is having on families.
If approved by ICE, the Crete facility would have 788 beds, making it the largest immigrant detention facility in the Chicago area, and one of five new centers nationwide. A report issued by village officials and the controversial Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) describes an “ideal facility” (underline theirs), LEED certified with “soft” interior settings and “non-institutional” design to “provide the least restrictive environment appropriate to the detention population.” At this “normative residential environment with non-institutional furniture and finishes” deportees would be subjected to “enhanced but controlled freedom of movement” and clothed in uniforms simultaneously described as “non-institutional” and “less institutional.” The report also promises a constant 90% occupancy rate.
Broad opposition exists within the village to negotiations between the village board, CCA, and ICE. The marchers contributed testimonials about abuses at CCA prisons and the failures of immigration reform under the Obama administration. As we march on May Day let us all bear witness that attacks on immigrants are part of the larger attack on the working class and that the rights of immigrants are fundamental to the rights of all human beings.