Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. today announced that the hearing on whether to build an immigrant determination center in Crete promised by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency will take place on Monday, May 21, 2012 from 6-8pm in Crete, with the location of the hearing still to be determined.
Congressman Jackson said, "Whether it's the Crete detention center for immigrants or the proposed state prison in Pembroke, prisons as a desperate and last ditch form of job generating economic activity is not the economic future I want for the southland. Prisons are what you get when public officials fail to provide positive economic models and projects. The Abraham Lincoln National Airport will generate the kind of positive economic stimulus needed for jobs and new business opportunities needed in the southland.
"While the ICE hearing will allow all sides to express whether they support or are opposed to building a new detention center for immigrants in Crete, I am still strongly opposed to building such a center in Crete. I stand firmly with the residents of Crete who held a Press Conference at the Thompson Center earlier today supporting state legislation that would prohibit the private ownership of federal prisons and expressing their opposition to this misguided detention center. Unfortunately, a scheduling conflict prevented me from joining them.
"I don't want Crete to become famous for building prisons and breaking up families. America is supposed to welcome the tired, the poor and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Regardless of your feelings about immigrants, Crete is a vibrant and charming small town. That image would change drastically with a prison," Jackson said.
He added: "I've successfully opposed prison projects in my district for 17 years and will continue to do so. They are not attractive to establishing other kinds of businesses and spurring economic development.
"According to the latest census, 6.3 percent (523 persons) of Crete's residents are Latino. The proposed detention center would house 750 people. That means there would be more Latinos in jail than live in Crete -- a population half free and half incarcerated is unacceptable," Jackson concluded.