ELKHART COUNTY — A plan to build an immigration detention facility in Elkhart County has drawn opposition.
Thursday, those against it took their concerns to a county commissioner.
People say they're concerned the detention center will drive away a large portion of the population who are immigrants. They say that could increase a workforce shortage the county already faces.
As residents filled the auditorium at Concord Junior High School, the Coalition Against the Elkhart County Immigration Detention Center says it's ready to take on the proposal.
"There is growing awareness in the community that this proposal exists. There is growing awareness of what it will do, but more importantly there is a growing awareness of why this will be a very negative thing to come to Elkhart County," said Richard Aguirre, coalition co-coordinator.
Some came to learn more about the proposal and figure out the pros and cons if it were to come.
"I'd like to learn more about it. I've heard reports that this kind of thing discourages immigrants from staying in the area. Elkhart County benefits greatly from having people, a very diverse workforce, and I think a lot of research should be done before anything is considered," said Carl Rutt, attended the meeting.
The plan is on hold for 30 days so Core Civic, the private prison firm that wants to build the facility, can prepare before going before a review committee.
Opponents are using those 30 days to try and block it permanently.
"Just the thought of having immigration driving around in their backyard, that's what people are thinking. So it just brings fear to the people. I know I've talked to family in Mexico and they come here with a Visa and they are like wow you are going to have immigration there when we told them. They are scared of it too," said Rafael Correa, attended the meeting.
The facility is expected to bring 300 jobs to the area, but people believe more workers will be lost than brought.
"I feel like a lot of people will leave. I know people who are thinking about if this happens, they are packing up and leaving. Even though they are OK here, they are legally here. It's just not good, it's not a good view."
The piece of land Core Civic wants to develop is just off County Road 7 near the county jail and landfill.
The Elkhart County Board of Commissioners could consider the application during its February 19 meeting.