Mayor: No word on immigrant detention center
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent May 7, 2014 9:46PM
Updated: June 10, 2014 6:28AM
HOBART — Mayor Brian Snedecor on Wednesday night told opponents of a possible immigrant detention center that he has had no contact with the developer, The GEO Group, in weeks and asked them to help stop the incorrect information about the project that he said is being spread through the city.
Snedecor said he heard all kinds of misinformation from people Tuesday during the primary election, including that the center is under construction on 61st Avenue.
“I ask everyone to do their part and say that is incorrect when you hear something like that,” Snedecor told a roomful of people at Wednesday’s city council meeting, many of whom were members of the Concerned Citizens of Hobart.
The citizens group formed in opposition to the privately operated immigrant center that’s proposed for the former St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church land on 49th Avenue and has been meeting regularly to mobilize residents in opposition to the plan.
Under The GEO Group’s proposal, the center would be operated for profit, detaining undocumented immigrants while they await possible deportation.
Snedecor pointed out that there’s an extensive process that a project like the detention center has to go through and that such a center also needs federal approval.
Snedecor said he hasn’t been in contact with The GEO Group since he wrote a letter informing the Boca Raton, Fla,-based company that he would no longer support the project, in part because the company had not done outreach in the community as he asked it to do.
Council members said they haven’t heard from GEO representatives either, and Councilman Matt Claussen, D-At-large, said he would have no problem contacting the opponents if he does.
Robert Crossk, a former city councilman and former Lake County councilman, wanted the city council to go a step further and formally deny permission for a detention center in Hobart.
“I’m asking for city administrators and elected officials to deny a facility of this kind on the St. Sava property. Your decision will affect every taxpayer in this city,” Crossk said. “If you make a decision that is detrimental to the city, it will rest on your shoulders and your consciences.”