HOBART | Concerned Citizens of Hobart held another public meeting Sunday regarding a proposal to build an immigration detention center on property once owned by St. Sava Church.
GEO Group, a Florida-based company that builds and operates correctional and detention facilities around the world, purchased the 40 acres of land east of Interstate 65 near Robinson Lake in November.
Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor said recently the city is “not even close” to a formal proposal with GEO on a possible plan to build an immigration detention center.
However, those attending the meeting at First Unitarian Church aren’t so sure about that.
Paulie Garcia, co-founder of MIGHT (Mass Incarceration and Geo Halt Team), said the protest against a detention facility is moving from the awareness phase to the action phase.
“This is where you’re going to begin seeing petitions hitting the streets, signs in windows and lawns and see in particular the very laser-focused responses to what we know are the problems with GEO and what we know will be their attempts to spin those stories,” he said.
Garcia is passionate about the action because he has family members who are undocumented immigrants.
“I have seen firsthand the actual devastation to families, children and communities and in particular everything we hold sacred,” he said. “When you have a terrible event happen and somebody has observed it they’re afraid to speak up because they're afraid of deportation.”
Melinda Rayter lives on Liverpool Road near where the detention facility, or “prison” as most residents agree that it really is, would be built.
“We should do things to beautify Hobart, and barbed wire is not a beautiful thing,” she said. “It sends the wrong message. I don’t think it’s a good idea because we the people will lose total control politically of this town. GEO will take over if they come in.”
Last week city officials said they sent letters to GEO asking them to secure or demolish the building on the former St. Sava site.
Concerned Citizens of Hobart member Tom DuBois said they’ve now heard bids on the demolition are coming in.
Concerned Citizens said signs protesting the facility should be arriving in a week and a website will soon be up and act as a central place for residents to garner more information on the cause.