Yesterday new McHenry County Board Members—Republican Tracie Von Bergen and Democrats Jessica Phillips, Theresa Meshes, and Tanya Jindrich as well as new Board Chair Mike Buehler were sworn into office at a special meeting in Woodstock. The new Board will soon take up deferred consideration of ending the contract to use the top floor of the County Jail as Federal immigrant detention center. Buehler has not yet tipped his hand on his attitude on the issue but the addition of the new Democrats and another to be appointed to fill out the term of Suzanne Ness who was elected to the Illinois General Assembly the Board will have more friendly ears on the subject.
In addition the death of Chuck Wheeler, the Board’s most voracious critic of ending the contract, will give Buehler the opportunity to appoint a replacement. Will he appoint a moderate, as he painted himself in his campaign, or will he bow to local Republican leadership which is firmly in the hands of right-wing ideologues and Trumpists. Pending that appointment there may be a few Republicans who might be open to ending the contract on fiscal but not moral grounds.Members of many of the signatory groups participated in rally at the McHenry County Jail on December 4 to demand an end to the ICE contract.
A coalition of social justice, Latino, and racial justice groups joined together to issue an appeal to the new Board. The Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation Social Justice Team was proud to be a signatory. The following press release discussed the message to the Board.
Supporters and organizations have come together to form a coalition to demand that you, the McHenry County board, cancel the contract with ICE. Immigrant organizations are leading this fight and together we will all work tirelessly to continue to create awareness in our community and beyond.
From our Immigrant organizers: Nosotros rechazamos la expansión de la migra en nuestro estado. Sabemos que la migra existe para perfilarnos, acosarnos y dividirnos de nuestras familias con un presupuesto exagerado y una historia malévola y racista tanto aquí como en la frontera. A la vez ha sido muy lucrativa para la migra y sus subcontratistas que forman para de un sistema que se aprovecha tanto de nuestra labor como de nuestra detención. Immigrants are not for sale! Es nuestro derecho y nosotros lo merecemos.
We believe that immigrants are deserving of the same human rights we are all entitled to. We should not let borders stand between us and compassion. In a country founded on immigration and the conquest of foreign land, it is hypocritical of us to decide who deserves dignity based on the origins of birth. In the land of freedom and opportunity we should be understanding of those who want to seek a better life. The crimes committed against individuals by caging, separating and restricting the mobility of another are ones that come at the expense of our own humanity.
Our country claims to pride itself on diversity, inclusion and strives for equity, yet the actions of ICE are in direct contradiction of those values and our beliefs as community members of this society.
The actions of ICE are deplorable and morally reprehensible both locally and nationwide. Some people are still unaware that McHenry County has housed an ICE facility for 16 years in our community of Woodstock, Illinois. Immigrants from all over the Chicagoland area and throughout our nation are sent here to be incarcerated.
We are all descendants of immigrants, and as immigrants it is our obligation to help improve the quality of life for all. Instead of creating family separation and upholding systemic oppression and human rights violations, we can help people navigate the systems of this country in order for them to thrive and continue to be active members of society. We believe that we should treat asylum seekers with dignity and respect.
We can no longer be complicit in detaining immigrants at the cost of community values putting profit over people. We have witnessed the atrocities that ICE partakes in at the national level and refuse to have this type of violence.
Immigrants are not for sale! We will not rest until the contract is cancelled.
Federación de Migrantes Unidos por Veracruz
Solidaridad de Dupage/Centro de Trabajadores Casa DuPage
Coalición de Migrantes Mexicanos
Federación Hidalguense en Illinois y Medio Oriente
Immigrant Solidarity Dupage
Standing Up Against Racism- Woodstock
Elgin in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter
Activists for Racial Equity (Crystal Lake)
Elgin Coalition for Immigrant Rights
Tree of Life UU Congregation Social Justice Team
Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and Justice