Hundreds gather to celebrate defeat of ICE detention center in Elkhart County

Published: Jan. 27, 2018 at 11:52 PM EST
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Hundreds of people came out Saturday rejoicing over a community wide effort to stop an ICE detention center from being built in Elkhart County.

Core Civic announced Monday they would not seek to build a facility in the area after widespread community opposition.

"This was not a thing of liberals, progressives, the activists against the Republican party or a corporation," Co-coordinator of the Coalition against Elkhart County Detention Center Richard Aguirre said. "This was an outgrowth of a community that included Republican leaders, business industry, non profit, a wide span of people."

People of all races, ages, and genders came out to celebrate.

"If you look around tonight, you will see college educated people, you'll see working class, blue-collar people, you'll see people who only speak Spanish," Aguirre said. "You'll see people here who have PhD's, and we're all together for an evening."

The opposition included many business leaders in Goshen and Elkhart.

"It's a quality of life issue," Hertzler Systems CEO Evan Miller said. "A prison like this is a tremendous burden on a community and on the economic development of a community. They're promising jobs, and they certainly would create some positions, but they're low-income positions, and the kind of culture this creates in the community is really negative."

The win was especially important for the area's Latino community.

"I'm a Mexican American," Co-coordinator of the Coalition against Elkhart County Detention Center Marbella Chavez said. "To be able to protect my community from having this giant come and try to instill fear in us and incarcerate us - to be able to say that I helped stop that is amazing."

The coalition is thrilled they won this fight, but members pointed out fights like this one are happening throughout the country, and they plan on focusing their efforts on how they can help elsewhere.