Recently, the news broke that a private company called Immigration Centers of America is targeting the small town of Dwight, a town that 4,300 people, including myself, call home.
The goal of the proposed facility is to partner with ICE – the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency – to construct a detention center which will be built directly next to the residential area of town to detain 1,200 accused immigrant men from the Chicagoland area. Dwight is crossing its fingers that this facility will bring more jobs and income to the town and will create a ripple effect of more businesses and residents being attracted to the town.
The private facility wishes to incorporate into the town, utilizing facilities like water and sewage systems that are not up to par for usage by just the residents now, much rather a whole new facility. However, we have already seen a facility like this develop and consequently, crash and fail, ultimately creating the opposite effect throughout Dwight, losing residents, businesses, income and jobs for the town as a whole. That facility also happened to be a prison.
There are plenty of arguments for and against the facility, but my biggest question is: why is no one talking about this issue? The only media outlet that I have seen cover the topic is The Paper, Dwight’s local paper, but the center will socioeconomic and political effects in neighboring communities as well. Surrounding towns will have an influx of ICE agents and possibly some of their residents taken into the facility. The first article explicitly states that this facility is targeting residents of the Chicago community, and I would not be surprised if its effects seep into areas from Milwaukee to Springfield as well. There is no communication or information being given to the citizens of the communities it will ultimately affect – those in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas, as well as Dwight’s neighboring towns.
I am writing this article to inform the people of communities this will affect. We’ve heard a single voice and just one side of the story in the media until now. It’s about time we heard more voices. There are seven voices on the Dwight Board of Trustees, the committee that gets the final vote on the ICE facility, but there are millions of other voices in the neighboring communities and the cities that this facility is targeting.
There is a public hearing being held on Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Dwight Public Services Complex with the vote from the board likely following on Febr. 25. Comments for those meetings can be submitted to the Village Clerk (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Do not let the voices of immigrant families in large cities and the residents of these local communities be silenced. It is important that we not allow this facility to sneak into our neighborhood without considering the best interest of our families, our neighbors, and our communities.
Hannah Van Der Karr