Updated: June 18, 2013 7:29AM
Joliet City Councilman Jim McFarland said Wedneday its time for a public airing on an immigrant detention facility.
McFarland, who was elected to the council in April with support from opponents of a detention facility, said he would like to see a presentation next month from the company that wants to build the facility. By July, he said, the council should vote on whether to move ahead.
“I feel residents want to know what’s being proposed,” McFarland said. “I requested the city manager to have Corrections Corp. of America come to Joliet and present what they want to build whether it comes to Joliet or not.”
The future of the detention center is uncertain.
There has been no formal proposal to build one in Joliet. But City Manager Thomas Thanas has explored the possibility, noting its potential to create jobs and add to the city’s property tax base.
Thanas said Wednesday, however, the project awaits the outcome of an immigration bill in Congress.
“We’re waiting for the immigration reform debate in Washington to be finished to see if immigration detention centers will be part of the bill to come out of Washington,” Thanas said.
He has previously advised against a detailed public discussion of the detention center until a formal proposal is made to Joliet. But Thanas said he will invite Corrections Corp. of America to make a presentation if the full council wants it.
“I think CCA can come in and give a lot of detail,” he said. “If that’s the direction the council wants to go, that’s fine.”
Thanas, who said he just talked with McFarland late Wednesday afternoon about a CCA presentation, said he would await direction from the full council.
Meanwhile, McFarland is scheduled to be at a press conference Thursday with opponents of the detention center. Will County Board Speaker Herbert Brooks and two other county board members also are supposed to be at the press conference.
An announcement of the conference said opponents will call on the Joliet City Council to stop all talks with CCA about the detention center.
McFarland said that, while he had agreed to attend the press conference, he did not plan on calling for the council to cut off talks with CCA.
“I’m just showing up,” he said.
Thanas said there is no negotiating taking place regarding the project. He said that he last talked with CCA about a month ago and that “basically involved me asking if they had any updates on where the immigration bill stood.”