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Detention Center Opponents Finish 48-Hour March To Crete

Some Crete residents balk at the idea of an immigrant detention center proposed for their village. (CBS)

Some Crete residents balk at the idea of an immigrant detention center proposed for their village. (CBS)

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CRETE, Ill. (CBS) — Opponents of a proposed immigration detention center in far south suburban Crete were out in force Sunday, in the final day of a 48-hour opposition walk.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Waelti reports, organizers say more than 80 people walked through Harvey and Chicago Heights on their way to Crete, in opposition to a planned detention center that would house more than 700 undocumented immigrants.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Waelti reports

Activist Rozalinda Borcila says the walk was productive.

“We were able to engage with people on the way, to meet new folks and to make new friendships, and to have a lot of discussions about how immigrant detention and mass-incarceration are connected,” Borcila said.

The issues are connected so much that Borcila says imprisonment has become the de facto solution to undocumented immigration, a trend she says will be made worse if the detention center is built.

The group left from the Little Village neighborhood on Friday. Some hoisted signs reading “Dignity, not deportation,” “Money for college, not detention,” and “No more cages.”

Other opponents from the Crete area, including Anthony Rayson of Monee, say it would destroy the fabric of a 180-year-old community.

“We’re not Menard. We’re not Pinckneyville. This is not Tamms. Crete is a legitimate farm community,” he said. “It’s one year older than Chicago. We’re not desperate. We’re not dying for money.”

The proposed 800-bed facility is considered widely unpopular with some Crete residents.

“The village itself is going to, I believe, basically die. People will move out. You won’t be able to sell your property,” Crete resident Mark Rose said last week.

To date, the village has not signed a formal contract with the Corrections Corp. of America, the private prison operator that would build and manage the facility for the federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.