By Howard Packowitz
It was decision day in Dwight as the village board Monday night backed plans for a proposed immigration detention facility.
The vote was 5-2 to annex the property near Interstate 55 and Illinois Route 17, although Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has yet to sign a contract with Immigration Centers of America for a new Illinois detention center.
Hundreds of people packed into the village board meeting, which was moved to the Dwight High School gymnasium to accommodate the crowd.
Among the speakers was Dwight resident Leslie Gingery who said she trusted elected officials’ judgment.
“We’ve elected you in good faith that you’ve done due dilligence that you researched this, that if it’s good for our community, you will bring it to our community. We have faith in you,” said Gingery.
Another Dwight resident offered a very different view.
“I guess I’m only speaking tonight because I feel like I have to do everything I can to make sure my conscience is clear when I go to bed because I think that this would be a horrible thing for our town,” said Mary Slott.
Mayor Jared Anderson touted the humane treatment he said the non-criminal immigrants would receive at the detention center, plus the economic benefits.
He said when fully-staffed, the detention center would employ 340 people, many of them with high salaries. Detention officers and registered nurses would make up to $81,000 a year.