CRETE | A Monday night forum on a proposed immigrant detention facility is postponed because organizers fear protesters from the NATO summit in Chicago will come to Crete.
The forum was organized by U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., who opposes such a facility being built in his district. Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials along with U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., were expected to attend.
The detention facility is meant to hold people facing violations of federal immigration law and the forum was organized to give residents a venue to ask questions.
But Frank Watkins, a spokesman for Jackson, said the event was canceled due to, "security concerns raised by NATO and outside protesters who are threatening to come to Crete."
Watkins, in a prepared statement, said that Jackson consulted with local and federal law enforcement officials before deciding to postpone the hearing, which he said will be rescheduled at a date and time yet to be decided.
Officials did not elaborate on what the security threats were, or how many people might have come to Crete had the hearing been held today – which is also the final day of the NATO summit taking place at the McCormick Place convention center.
Gutierrez believes that detaining people on immigration violations that are not criminal acts, in and of themselves, is wrong, while Jackson does not like the idea of any kind of jail-like facility being built in the area.
But Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say that using a separate facility instead of the county jails, where people are now held while their immigration cases are pending, is more humane.
Federal immigration officials want to build five such facilities across the country, with the Crete-based facility handling people from the Chicago-area and around the Midwestern U.S. They want Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America to build and operate the 750-bed facility just south of the Will County village.