A federal immigration detention center would have a "very positive impact" in Joliet, but the city has not made a commitment to locate the facility, City Manager Thomas Thanas told the Joliet Herald-News.
Thanas acknowledged there is an "exploratory project" to put a detention center for immigrants facing deportation in Joliet. Federal Immigration and Customs officials tried to locate the same kind of facility in Crete but were turned down in June.
But Joliet, which has one closed prison and has another slated to be shut down, could be more receptive.
"From my perspective it's a project that has a very positive impact in the community where it's located," Thanas said Thursday.
Thanas said the project would generate jobs, taxes and revenue for Joliet.
"It's a major project that creates hundreds of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs that are consistent with what we want to see in economic development in Joliet," he said.
The center would generate tax dollars because it would be built and operated by a private company, although overseen by the federal government.
So far, though, putting the center in Joliet has not been discussed publicly. The matter has been discussed in closed session with the City Council, and Thanas has met in Washington with federal officials.
"I think there's a lot of information that has to be developed," Thanas said. "We're nowhere near a decision either at the local level with the city or at the federal level with the agency involved."
Thanas said he did not know if other sites in the Chicago region were being considered for the center.
Such a project, however, would not use either the closed Joliet Correctional Center or the Illinois Youth Center, which Gov. Pat Quinn plans to close.
Thanas said a new facility would be built at a location to be determined. But it would not be near homes, schools or commercial areas, he said.