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Opponents Ramp Up Campaign Against Crete Immigrant Detention Center

CRETE, Ill. (CBS) -- Opponents are ramping up their campaign against a proposed detention center for illegal immigrants to be built in south suburban Crete.

"Can we keep the Crete detention center from becoming a reality just south of Chicago?" an immigration rights activist asked a crowd. "Yes we can!" They all answered.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Regine Schlesinger reports


As WBBM Newsradio's Regine Schlesinger reports, activists say the proposed 800-bed facility is especially repugnant because it would be built and run privately by a company called Corrections Corp. of America, or CCA – the nation's largest operator of private prisons.

Sister JoAnn Persch opposes it for that alone.

"No one should profit from human misery," she said.

Crete village officials who support the proposed center see it as a job creation project. But Jerry Calloway, who lives in Crete, says it would hurt the community.

"It becomes not a center that people want to move into," Calloway said. "It becomes what you might say is a prison town."

Other residents have previously expressed similar sentiments. Last month, nthony Rayson of Monee said 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."

Another Crete resident, Mark Rose, had a similar prophecy of doom last month.

"The village itself is going to, I believe, basically die. People will move out. You won't be able to sell your property," Rose said in March.

Illinois law already bans privately-operated prisons. Now, opponents of the Crete project are pushing a bill that would ban this facility as well.

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