Some 30 people on Friday kicked off a three-day march from Chicago's Little Village neighborhood to south suburban Crete, the site of a proposed detention center that immigration activists oppose.
The 788-bed facility would be owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a private company, and temporarily house individuals accused of being in the United States illegally, ABC Chicago reports.
Immigration activists contend that, although the facility is part of a larger initiative to improve the conditions facing those detained because of accusations of being undocumented immigrants, it is still part of an "unjust system" that deports too many people and needs more comprehensive reform, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Rozalinda Borcila of Moratorium on Deportations Campaign told CBS Chicago that instead of the immigration reform she and other activists have fought for, "we’ve received immigrant detention reform and that’s not what we’ve been asking the Obama administration to consider."
"We're going to do whatever it takes to stop construction of this jail," the Rev. Jose Landaverde told fellow demonstrators Friday, the Tribune reports.
Some residents of the suburb have joined immigration activists in their opposition to build the new center. Crete resident Mark Rose, who would be able to see the center when looking outside his rear window, told CBS Chicago the facility would cause the village to "basically die."
CCA spokesman Steve Owen argues that the detention center, which would house detainees from Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Kentucky, will have an opposite impact on the village, bringing an estimated "200 new jobs in the community, and approximately $1.2 million annually in property taxes; another $1.2 million in utility fees," according to CBS.
The matter is also the subject of legislation approved this week by the Illinois state Senate. Sponsored by Sen. Sen. Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago), Senate Bill 1064 would ban local governments and state agencies from allowing private companies to either build or operate civil detention centers. Such a ban already regulates the building and operation of state prisons and county jails, WBEZ reports.
In a statement, Munoz described CCA as "the same private prison company that built prisons in Arizona and then lobbied to pass stricter immigration laws so they could fill the beds in the facility and get paid by the government to do so," the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
The bill will next be considered by the state House, where Rep. Randy Ramey (R-Carol Stream) hopes to rally opposition, according to WBEZ. Ramey was previously the sponsor of an Arizona-style crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
The village of Crete has yet to formally approve the facility, but should they do so, CCA would still need to enter into an agreement with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to ABC.