Build detention center with caveats in place
By Alan Dyche January 1, 2013 9:12PM
Updated: February 3, 2013 6:07AM
I have a simple policy when it comes to requests from prospective clubs at my college to be the faculty adviser: Yes. Skateboarders and parkour? Sure. Board gaming? Of course! United and undocumented? Absolutely!
Ah, but that third club is teaching me lessons I hadn’t wanted to learn.
The detention process that undocumented illegal immigrants face after their first brush with the law is murky and vague. I have heard family members tell me that their father/brother/mother was stopped for a traffic offense, whisked away to a detention center, then transferred to another center many states away within a week or two.
Clearly, this kind of treatment offends this patriot. I understand that the undocumented are here illegally, but one has to appreciate the casino-like quality of this justice.
To paraphrase it from the state’s point of view, we can’t find all the undocumented immigrants, but we can remove those who come to us through the legal system, swiftly, no matter how tiny the offense. And we’ll remove them from their communities as quickly as possible, before they can perform such “unspeakable acts” as organizing and hiring lawyers.
I asked my club whether Chicago’s refusal to participate in this process helped matters. Yes, came the reply, but we often must travel outside of the city limits. (For those of you who are wondering, this club is not entirely Hispanic and brown. Undocumented illegal immigrants can be Irish or Romanian.)
The issue before us was brought to me first by the club I sponsor, but then by my church, which I respect even in disagreement.
Joliet is considering a detention center for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This makes sense on a couple of levels — Joliet already has a prison and is close to Chicago, a major population center.
I have surprised myself at how “pro jobs” I have become since writing this column. My reasoning? Economic justice is better pursued through improving jobs that exist than from the standing start of unemployment. But this is a strenuous test of my beliefs, and my beliefs fail. I add myself to the “no” column regarding an ICE detention center in Joliet.
With these caveats: I would be in favor of a detention center in Joliet if the only undocumented illegal immigrants held there were all from a distance reasonable for family members to visit. The center should announce, publicly (maybe in police-blotter form), all arrivals, including the incident that detained them. And, finally, detainees would not be transferred to any other center before their cases were closed. I don’t expect these conditions to be met.
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