Over 150 Indiana residents signed a petition against building an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in the area out of fear of having a prison in their backyards, but officials said there were no current plans to build one.
No Roselawn Prison led the petition signing at the First Baptist Church in Roselawn, Indiana, on Aug. 4, according to the Post-Tribune Saturday. The group is led by Democratic candidate for state Senate District 6 Ryan Farrar and his father Nick Farrar, who is running for Newton County Commissioner in District 2.
The petition came after county commissions rejected a panel’s recommendation in July to deny a zoning change that would make it possible to build an ICE facility on the 46 acres of land in Roselawn. County officials said the land could be used to build a police or fire station, the Tribune reported. (RELATED: Man Arrested For Threatening To Kill ICE Agents)
“We are obviously aware of the excitement and turmoil surrounding the subject,” Newton County Attorney Patrick Ryan said to the Tribune. “Newton County has not received or approved any application for use (of any kind) on that parcel. No official action has been taken.”
State Senator and Republican Rick Niemeyer was also present at the meeting and was against having a detention center in his district, saying it was “strictly a zoning issue,” according to the Tribune.
The GEO Group, which runs detention facilities and prisons nationwide, proposed having an 800-bed detention center across from the Gary/Chicago International Airport. The 2016 scheme by the private Florida-based company, however, was not successful, the Tribune reported.
Pablo Paez, vice president for corporate relations for The GEO Group, said the facility in Gary would have been an $80 million investment to the town, according to the Indiana Economic Digest in a June 10 report. Paez added that the proposal would have brought hundreds of jobs, provided local contracting opportunities worth over $1 million, and spawned $1 million in new tax revenue without increasing property or business taxes.
The GEO Group also tried to build an ICE facility on its property in Hobart but was met with strong opposition, the Indiana Economic Digest reported. Interfaith Federation, Black Lives Matters NWI/Gary 219MIGHT, the Concerned Citizens of Hobart, and smaller groups deterred ICE facilities from being built in both Gary and Hobart.
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