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Joining forces to oppose immigration detention center

NOW: Joining forces to oppose immigration detention center

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The St. Joseph County and Elkhart County communities joined forces Thursday night to oppose the building of an ICE detention facility in Elkhart County.

The Coalition Against the Elkhart County Immigration Detention Center led the charge.

Coalition leaders say what’s being proposed is a 1200-bed private immigration prison near the Elkhart County Jail.

South Bend-based groups, like La Casa de Amistad, joined the cause as well.

“My father was an immigrant. He was born in Mexico…The contributions that immigrants have to make are many. We have proven our worth time and time again…Prisons are not never have been economic contributors to their community,” said Reynaldo Hernandez, who lives in South Bend.

Community leaders say Elkhart County already has a deficit of employees, with 9500 unfilled jobs.

“So adding a facility with relatively low wage jobs is not going to be successful, and it’s going to be a drain on our community, because prisons don’t attract new schools. They don’t attract nice businesses. They attract businesses that serve prisons, and that’s not a thing we need in Elkhart County,” said coalition leader Richard Aguirre.

He says in an area home to a significant number of immigrants, an ICE Detention Center would just perpetuate the feeling of abandonment they say immigrants have felt since President Trump took office.

Coalition leaders also raised concerns about the treatment of inmates at private prisons, which this would be.

“These facilities have been built in other parts of the country, and they have been proven to have very poor records of human rights and mistreatment of prisoners,” said Aguirre.

Thursday night, those who came out wrote letters to the Elkhart County Commissioners, who would eventually decide on the proposal.

To learn more about the coalition, check out their Facebook page here.

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