Published in the Elkhart Truth, December 27, 2017 (Opinion, page A4)
As Northern Indiana Hoosiers, we value family, community, diversity, and justice. The proposed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Center in Elkhart County betrays those values and CoreCivic is the worst possible contractor for the project.
Although CoreCivic proposes to build “well-run, cost-effective, and flexible detention solutions for its government partners” (DPUD, 12/1/2017), there is no evidence to support these claims. ICE’s model of out-sourcing detention facilitates profits at the expense of safety and inhumane treatment of detainees. CoreCivic is among the most egregious offenders. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, their Eloy Federal Contract Facility in Arizona has the “highest number of recorded detainee deaths of any detention facility in the country” (10/3/2017). CoreCivic also pledges to provide up to 300 jobs, but as the Coalition Against the Elkhart County Immigration Center notes, these jobs are low-wage, high-turnover, and unsafe because of excessive violence that results from habitual understaffing at its facilities. The Obama Administration determined that private facilities have more safety and security problems than government-run centers and sought to phase them out, a policy which the current Administration has overturned.
Economic development is essential for our community, but the ICE Detention Center is not the right solution for Northern Indiana. A recent online poll by the Elkhart Truth asked, “Are you in favor of the proposed illegal immigration detention center being considered for a site near the county jail?” (12/16/2017). The community responded overwhelmingly in OPPOSITION to the plan (85.87%). Despite the Trump Administration’s pledge to prioritize undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes, ICE arrests were up 40% during the first half of the year, including a sharp rise in those without criminal convictions.
We are a community of welcome. An ICE Detention Center will undermine our strong sense of solidarity and drive people away from the area. Persons of color, regardless of their immigration status, will be fearful of additional policing and new residents will be reluctant to relocate to the area because of the facility’s presence. ICE detention also separates families and destabilizes the very fabric of our community. These negative impacts are bad for our economy.
We value the social, cultural, and economic contributions of our immigrant neighbors. There are more than 2 million Dreamers in the US (children who were brought to the country by their parents). We support a policy that provides a pathway to citizenship for individuals and families as they positively impact our communities and contribute to the vibrancy of the area.
Rep. Jackie Walorski has not yet made a statement on the proposed ICE Detention Center. I encourage you to call her to voice your opposition and affirm your solidarity with area residents (202-225-3915). Please reach out to the Elkhart County commissioners as well: Board of Commissioners (574-534-3541 or email@example.com) and Planning Commissioners (574-971-4678 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Together, we can strengthen our community and grow our economy. Together, America Works!
Candidate, Indiana 2nd Congressional District