Community leaders and immigrant advocates gathered yesterday to voice concerns regarding CoreCivic’s proposal to build a $100 million immigration detention center for U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement in Elkhart County.
Community organizer Richard Aguirre says the event was intended to send not only a strong message of opposition to CoreCivic’s proposal and but also a message of unity amongst diverse segments of the community.
“I’m convinced one day we will look back at this time with regret and shame,” Aguirre said, “There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and for us that time is now,” he said referring to the treatment of immigrants and other minority groups.
The group of speakers at the event included community organizers, business owners, councilmen and students.
Goshen College president Rebecca Stoltzfus delivered a statement on behalf of the college, urging the Elkhart County Board of Commissioners to vote against CoreCivic’s estimated 100 million dollar building proposal.
She says the college estimates they have a 50 million dollar impact on the county annually, and building a detention would have a negative impact on how many students enroll yearly. She says Latino students currently make up about 23 percent of undergraduate enrollment. Goshen has an estimated 12-hundred DACA recipients registered in the city.
“As Elkhart County’s only residential higher education institution, we oppose the proposed immigration detention center in Elkhart County,” she said.
Ashley Toruno reproesented the Indiana Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union at the event and said, “The ACLU of Indiana stands with the members of the Coalition Against the Elkhart Immigration Detention Center and ardently opposes a CoreCivic immigrant detention facility in Indiana.”
The Elkhart County Zoning Board will review CoreCivic’s proposal for the new building in February. The Elkhart County Board of Commissioners will have the final say on whether or not to approve the building proposal. Commissioner Mike Yoder says the issue is not a simple one. He says Elkhart wants to be welcoming to new businesses, but he also understands residents’ concerns regarding the proposal.
CoreCivic first announced plans for the facility in November 2017. CoreCivic has filed plans with the Elkhart County Zoning Board in an effort to secure a 61.5 size plot of farmland. The land is located near the Elkhart County Landfill as well as the county jail. CoreCivic estimates the property will cost about $100 million dollars when complete and hold 1,152 beds with room for growth.