The Main Stream

Apr 14, 2012 4:01 PM

Ill. immigrant jail threatened by contractor issue

CRETE, Ill. (AP) - Emotions ran high when federal officials began eyeballing a small Illinois town for a nearly 800-bed detention facility for illegal immigrants awaiting deportation.

The mayor of Crete embraced the prospect of new jobs. But some residents and Chicago immigrant rights groups pushed back with a unique tactic: They persuaded Illinois' Democratic leaders to try banning Crete from working with private contractors on the project.

Immigration officials have promoted such detention centers as ways to offer a more humane approach for incarcerating low-risk detainees. The plans come as deportations, around 400,000 a year during President Barack Obama's term, reach records.

Although planned facilities in other states have faced protest, none has been jeopardized as seriously as the plan in Illinois, which has some of the most immigrant-friendly policies in the nation.

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