|The old Dwight Correctional Center for women ceased to exist in 2013|
No, I’m not talking about President Donald Trump’s fantasies of erecting a wall of sorts along the U.S./Mexico border.
THIS IS ABOUT the notion of building detention facilities with which to lock up people awaiting immigration-related offenses that could result in their eventual deportation from this country.
Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have dreams of using facilities scattered across the nation – including one whose intent would be to hold people found living in the Chicago-area while lacking a valid Visa or legitimate citizenship status.
Currently, people facing immigration violations often get sent off to county jails with which the federal government has contracts with. In our case, many people caught here wind up in the McHenry County Jail to wait while their immigration cases are resolved.
A concept that offends many people because it means that people who haven’t committed a criminal offense (no matter how much the ideologues want to think it ought to be regarded as one) are being locked up with people who HAVE committed crimes and are merely awaiting the day they’re sent off to the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections to serve their time.
THE IDEA IS that having these separate detention facilities means we can take the immigration cases out of jail with criminals. But we can still treat the individuals like criminals – which is what the ideologues are really after!
The problem is that people of rationality hate the idea of any kind of facility that is jail-like from being in or near their communities.
That is why local officials in places like Joliet, Crete and Hopkins Park in Illinois, along with Hobart, Gary and Elkhart County in Indiana, have all turned down the idea – not giving in to the fact that many of these places (particularly Gary, Ind.) could use the economic boost that could be derived from construction of a new facility and the possibility of jobs for people already living there.
This is just not a popular idea, which is why it seems officials are looking for a site further and further away from the heart of Chicago that will say “yes” and accept their plans.
THE BLOOMINGTON PANTAGRAPH is reporting that officials are looking at Dwight (a Livingston County community not far from the interstate connecting Chicago to St. Louis) as a possible site.
Local planning commission officials are considering annexation of a site near down so they can offer it up to federal officials for the plan.
Perhaps people are figuring Dwight is the right kind of place for detention facilities because, for many years, Dwight was the location of the Illinois Corrections Department facility for women found guilty of criminal offenses.
Maybe they also figure that a community with less than 2 percent Latino ethnic composition of its population won’t share the kind of hang-ups that communities up our way have with regards to such facilities.
ALTHOUGH THIS COULD be one of those instances where people surprise us by overcoming whatever hang-ups they may have and wind up doing the right thing.
As much as I like the idea that this ‘detention’ concept for immigration is now solidly outside of the Chicago metropolitan area (most of us only regard Dwight as a train stop between here and Springfield when they’re forced to use Amtrak), it is a concept that would be better off withering away altogether.Because we ought to be trying to figure out ways to make better sense of our federal immigration laws and clean up the bureaucratic mess that we now have.
Instead of building facilities so we can house people with pending cases so we can let them stretch out even longer – before the ideologues try to have their way of deporting everybody from this country who isn’t exactly like themselves.