Proposed Immigrant Detention Center Moves Before Dwight Village Board

By Madelyn Fogarty

Approximately 200 people gathered at a public hearing held before Dwight’s Planning Commission regarding the possible annexation of an 88-acre parcel of land to accommodate the construction and operation of a proposed Federal Detention Center. Immigration Centers of America, a private firm, is considering Dwight as the site for a federal immigration detention center that could house up to 1,200 non-criminal male illegal immigrant detainees.

 

With a majority vote, the Dwight Planning Commission approved recommendation of the proposed Petition for Annexation; the Application to Establish Zoning under a P-1 Planned Industrial District classification; and an Annexation Agreement between the Village of Dwight and ICA-Illinois, LLC and Butterfield Ridge No. 2, Inc. on the proposed use of the property for a Federal Detention Facility to the Dwight Village Board of Trustees.

 

The Dwight Village Board will take action on the matter during their regular board session at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 11, at the Dwight Public Services Complex. The board has the power to accept, reject, or make modifications to the recommendation of the Plan Commission.

Opposition to the proposed detention center has been streaming in over the past several weeks with protesters assembling in front of the Dwight Village Hall prior to the meeting chanting, “ICA, go away.”  “Prisons for profit” was one term used to describe detention facilities by ardent protesters who argued that this is a civil rights issue and private companies are lining their pockets at the cost of others.

“We oppose the economic policies that have presented this false dilemma that brought us all together here this evening and that is this notion that the economic survival of some must come at that cost of the deprivation of liberty for others,” stated Tom Cullin, president  of the Central Illinois Chapter of ACLU. “We oppose the construction of this facility in Dwight, and we shall remain diligent throughout these deliberations.”

Supporters feel that the community of Dwight might be a good asset to this facility and its non-criminal detainees while the detention center could provide a financial boon to the Village of Dwight which suffered a loss with the closing of the Dwight Correctional Center in 2013. The proposed detention center is expected to increase the area tax base by $20 million.

“We recently commissioned an economic impact study that expects this development to spur 493 jobs, $37.6 million in labor income, $59.4 million in economic output, and $3.2 million in overall tax revenue annually, directly to the Village of Dwight, Livingston County,” stated ICA Chief Operating Officer, Duane Ragsdale.

In addition, it was stated that as part of the project almost two miles of upgraded sanitary sewer lines would be funded. It was noted that the 493 jobs include all jobs created as off-shoots of the project. The detention center itself is slated for 280 jobs with an average salary over $60,000 per year.

It was noted that, at this time ICA does not yet have a contract regarding the project with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency within the Department of Homeland Security.

Here’s how Planning Committee members voted:

PETITION FOR ANNEXATION

Earl McCoy (Chairman) – Y
Chad Lundberg – Y
Gene Mortensen – Y
Ryan Van Der Karr -Y
John Duffy – Y

ZONING A P-1 INDUSTRIAL

McCoy – Y
Lundberg – N
Mortensen – Y
Van Der Karr – N
Duffy – Y

ANNEXATION AGREEMENT

McCoy – Y
Lundberg – N
Mortensen – Y
Van Der Karr – N
Duffy – Y

Scott Sand & Barb Christensen not present.