Statement on the CoreCivic’s proposed local immigration detention center — By President Rebecca J. Stoltzfus

This statement was given by Goshen College President Rebecca Stoltzfus at a press conference hosted by the Coalition Against the Elkhart County Immigration Detention Center on January 16, 2018.

UPDATE: On Monday, Jan. 22, CoreCive announced that it was withdrawing its proposal to build a private immigration detention center in Elkhart County.

Goshen College is an affordable, nationally-recognized, private Christian liberal arts college known for leadership in intercultural and international education, sustainability and social justice. Goshen College employs around 300 people, with a payroll of $10.7 million and an operating budget of $37 million. The college has an estimated $50 million annual economic impact in Elkhart County.

Students choose to attend Goshen College, in part, because of the welcoming, entrepreneurial and prosperous environment that has characterized our surrounding community. For the 2017-2018 academic year, Hoosiers make up 58 percent of our traditional undergraduate enrollment and Elkhart County residents make up 39 percent. We expect and hope that those percentages will continue increasing in the coming years, along with the approximate 4,000 alumni who are contributing to the life and work of the community.

Thus, as Elkhart County’s only residential higher education institution, we oppose the proposed immigration detention center in Elkhart County. I will highlight three reasons for our position:

  1. To recruit the top talent that we need to remain an outstanding, nationally-ranked college, we need to offer employees a community environment that is known for its prosperity and its quality of life. In our opinion, building a large high-security prison facility in this county, just across from our 1,000-bed Elkhart County Correctional Complex, would threaten the excellent and prosperous reputation of Elkhart County as the vibrant and welcoming community it is right now.
  2. The proposed facility would particularly threaten one of our growing markets of prospective students, namely our regional Latino students, who would feel less welcome in a county that would become known for one of the largest immigration detention centers in the United States. Latinos currently make up 23 percent of our undergraduate enrollment.
  3. We compete for hourly-wage workers to provide basic services at our college in an employment market that is already extremely competitive for such workers. The jobs that would be offered by this detention facility would not substantially expand the employment options in Elkhart County, but rather would add unhelpful competition for the already inadequate number of hourly workers.

Goshen College urges the Elkhart County Board of Commissioners to vote to preserve our community’s prosperity and our excellent quality of life and vote “no” on the CoreCivic proposal.