I am writing in regard to the informational meeting held this week regarding the potential for an ICE Detention Center to be located in Evanston. I listened carefully to the details shared at this meeting, and the representative from the private, for-profit Management Training Corporation painted a nice picture of plenty of high-wage jobs and economic stimulus for Evanston should this facility be located here.
Such a center would apparently house individuals without criminal records other than their illegal status while they were awaiting their legal hearings, following which they would be either deported or allowed to remain in the country.
According to the information shared at the meeting, these individuals would be treated very well and would have access to education, activities, health care, including mental health care, etc. The representative claimed that the standards they are required to meet from ICE and the Department of Homeland Security are quite stringent.
Again, this all sounds very nice in terms of opportunity for Evanston — our community sorely needs an economic boost right about now.
However, when I took some time to do some research, the information isn’t quite so rosy. A brief Google search for “MTC immigration centers” yields many results, including articles from Texas Monthly and the LA Times that detail an MTC-owned and operated immigration center in Texas that was plagued with problems, including rodents, poor health conditions, inmate abuse, and chronic understaffing.
Eventually these conditions resulted in rioting and the facility was closed down. The community where this facility was located is now involved with a lawsuit with MTC and appears to be in worse financial condition than before the facility opened its doors.
This, paired with some inconsistent responses from the MTC representative regarding employment guarantees and time frames for government contracts, leads to some concerns.
My immediate concern is for my hometown and what sort of assurances MTC has made that such a scenario will not happen here.
I am not writing to completely oppose such a facility. Although my political inclinations are to support immigration reform and oppose policies of rounding up those whose only crime is their illegal status, I also believe that this is not the appropriate setting for that debate.
There is no doubt that our community could desperately use the jobs and influx of money. I am, however, writing to ask my fellow residents to approach this with great care and to undertake a great deal of research of the pros and the cons before jumping into this venture.
It’s unfortunate that I was not aware of this meeting and the company involved early enough to do research beforehand and ask the representative directly about the issues at the facility in Texas. I think the people of Evanston deserve an opportunity to hear his responses before making any decisions.