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Statement of Lisa Koop, director of NIJC's office in Goshen, Indiana

The National Immigrant Justice Center has provided legal services to hundreds of immigrant Hoosiers since opening an office in Goshen, Indiana, in 2014. From its main office in Chicago, NIJC also serves thousands of immigrants detained each year across the country in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). We can attest that ICE and its prison contractors treat immigrants inhumanely, despite the promises made to communities under pressure to accept immigration prisons in their midst. Deaths in ICE detention are all too common.

When communities negotiate with ICE and private prisons, they lose. In other Midwest communities where ICE has sought to open new immigration prisons, pastors and others have reported increased anxiety among immigrant residents and business owners. CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA) in particular has been exposed for the harsh reality of life as a prison guard.

Immigrants are detained not because they pose danger to the community, but because there are financial incentives to fill beds and line the pockets of private prison corporations like CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA). NIJC sees asylum seekers, immigrants with long-term ties in our community, mothers with infants, and individuals who have been ordered deported but never had access to legal counsel locked up in these jails. As a nonprofit legal service organization that serves immigrants across the Midwest, we say in the strongest possible terms that an ICE prison in Elkhart County would yield no benefit to immigrants or our region.