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House bill would block Dwight immigration center project

Prohibits for-profit companies from operating civil detention facilities

The Illinois House passed a bill Wednesday, April 10, that would prohibit private, for-profit companies from operating civil detention facilities in Illinois, a measure that would effectively block a project currently being proposed in the village of Dwight.

Illinois already prohibits private prisons from operating in the state, and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the bill, said it is meant to accomplish the same goals.

“This is an industry that has been plagued by concerns about the health and safety, not only of the people that are held there, but the people that work there,” she said. “Given that we were so forward-thinking as to create this ban in the first place, I believe that it’s proper for us to complete that circle.”

The Dwight Village Board in March approved an agreement with a Virginia-based firm, Immigration Centers of America, which hopes to build a detention facility that it would operate on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

That thrust the village of about 4,000 people into the center of a larger debate over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, including the policy of separating children from their parents if they cross the U.S. border illegally.

The bill, House Bill 2040, passed the House by a vote of 85-26. It now moves to the Senate.

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