Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. today applauded last night's decision by the Crete Village Board and Mayor Einhorn to withdraw village support for a proposed immigrant detention there.
"I want to commend everyone in Crete today. This is how democracy was designed to work. The people spoke. And the government listened," Jackson said.
"It was clear to me, and it became increasingly clear to everybody, that a detention center and Crete were not a good fit."
"Crete is a wonderful small town with antique shops, small businesses and Balmoral racetrack. A prison would have changed that image forever," Jackson said.
"In politics, you try new things. It's never easy to admit when you may be wrong. But it's also very refreshing to see the people and their government working together, as we saw here."
Jackson has consistently opposed prisons in his congressional district, calling them examples of "de-development," which, when built, tend to scare away other types of future development.
Jackson first learned that village officials were negotiating with federal officials about building an immigrant detention center in Crete back in January. The Congressman immediately wrote letters expressing his strong opposition to the proposed prison to President Obama, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Despite Jackson's opposition, the Village continued negotiating with ICE and a private for-profit prison developer to locate a detention center in Crete, stating it would create jobs and tax base.
Crete citizens quickly and loudly joined the fight against the detention center, however. Local residents collected some 1,500 petitions opposing the prison and actively pushed for a new state law to ban privatized prisons in Illinois. While most local state lawmakers supported the ban, it ultimately failed in Springfield when the House failed to approve a Senate bill
Jackson had planned to host a town hall meeting in Crete with ICE officials July 16th to show ICE the widespread opposition to the plan. "That meeting is no longer necessary," Jackson said.