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Diocese joins opposition to ICE detention center

Jesse Hoyt representing Illinois Coalitifor Immigrant Refugee Rights leaves note for John Scheidt Will County Carpenters Local 174 Welfare

Jesse Hoyt, representing Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, leaves a note for John Scheidt at the Will County Carpenters Local 174 Welfare & Pension Funds offices in Joliet, Illinois, Monday, May 21, 2012. Hoyt is part of the latino groups who are protesting trade council support for immigrant detention center proposed for Crete. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 14, 2013 7:24AM



JOLIET — The Catholic Diocese of Joliet has joined the opposition to the idea of bringing an immigrant detention center to the city and will join opponents at a community meeting on Thursday.

The diocese previously was involved in opposition to the detention center when it was planned for Crete, said Thomas Garlitz, director for the Joliet diocese’s Office for Human Dignity.

“We’re opposed to for-profit prisons by principle,” Garlitz said, noting that Illinois bishops took the position after opposition mounted to an immigrant detention center in Crete. He said the diocese is particularly opposed to building detention facilities for immigrants before the United States enacts some form of “compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform.”

The community meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 205 E. Jackson St.

There is no specific proposal to bring an immigrant detention center to Joliet. But City Manager Thomas Thanas has pursued the possibility with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and with Corrections Corp. of America, the private company that would build and operate the prison.

Thanas has said private ownership of the prison creates the opportunity for the city and local schools to collect property taxes from the facility. But much of the opposition has focused on Corrections Corp. of America, with opponents contending the company has a bad track record.

“To make as much profit as possible, Corrections Corporation of America cuts corners everywhere,” Rev. Ray Lescher, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Joliet, told the Joliet City Council last week in speaking out against the detention center.

A representative from the Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet also spoke against the detention center at a November council meeting.

Most of the organizations slated to attend the Thursday meeting are Hispanic interest groups, which has made up the bulk of the opposition.

Jesse Hoyt, a community organizer in Joliet with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said the purpose of the Thursday meeting is “education a community that’s going to want to have a stake in whether a detention center is going to be built.”



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