A coalition of community organizations today opposed the opening in Evanston, Wyoming, of a jail for undocumented immigrants due to the negative socioeconomic impact that the penitentiary center would bring to the region.
One year after the announcement of the prison construction project managed by Management and Training Corporation (MTC, the third largest company of private prisons in the country), the coalition, which also includes activists from Utah, aims to “mobilize the public against the proposal” according to a statement released today.
The coalition, known as Wyo Says No (Wyoming says no), includes the ICE Free SLC (Salt Lake City without ICE), in reference to the English abbreviation of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service.
Last December, the governor of Wyoming determined that the governor’s approval is not needed for MTC to start the project, located about 550 kilometers from Cheyenne, the capital of Wyoming, but only 130 kilometers from Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah. Earlier this year, MTC announced that the establishment will house some 600 undocumented workers and will employ around 150 people.
On its account, ICE indicated at the time that the new prison is necessary to accommodate the growing number of undocumented immigrants arrested in the region, 20% more during the fiscal year that has just ended compared to the previous one.
For pro-immigrant groups, the city of Evanston, with 12,000 inhabitants, was selected not only for its proximity to Salt Lake City, but also for being “one of the poorest in Wyoming.” “Municipal and county officials (Uinta) who support the construction of the immigration detention center in Evanston use unemployment as an argument to persuade residents to accept the proposal, stating that the prison will boost the local economy by providing dollars for taxes and jobs needed, “says the coalition statement.
According to the coalition leaders, these promises could not be fulfilled, as happened in Arizona and Colorado, where local authorities had to pay millions of dollars for unused cells in the prison or offer multimillion-dollar financial incentives. In addition, the coalition points out, there would be another social impact, since the jail would “intimidate neighbors, friends and relatives” of immigrants in Evanstone. Beyond this project, the goal of the coalition is “the total abolition of ICE” and a system “that terrorizes undocumented workers to generate profits.”