YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown Mayor John McNally did not hesitate on Monday when asked for his opinion about Haitian refugees being housed at Youngstown’s private prison.
“I’m very much in favor of having the opportunity to fill that facility up — not only with detainees — but also with employees,” he said.
The main entrance to the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center is off Route 62 on Youngstown’s east side. On the sign, it says “CCA,” which stands for Corrections Corporation of America, but the company has now changed its name to CoreCivic.
While CoreCivic didn’t respond to interview requests on Monday, the mayor has talked with them.
“They brought me up to speed on it last week,” McNally said.
McNally says there are 550 inmates housed at the prison and there’s room for 1,500 more, which would also necessitate another 200 employees.
“That brings back jobs,” McNally said. “That brings back income tax dollars to us. So whatever works.”
Republican Don Manning is running against incumbent Democrat John Boccieri in the race for 59th District State Representative. Manning has made refugees — Haitian or otherwise — a campaign issue, saying he’s “absolutely opposed” to housing them in Youngstown.
“We don’t need anymore refugees in this area,” Manning said. “To be completely honest with you, I believe our country needs to take care of our own first.”
Boccieri wanted more information before committing to bringing Haitian refugees to Youngstown. But he does support helping them.
“I’ll even look for a family that I can bring and sit in my house if it goes to that,” Boccieri said.
When WKBN first posted a story last week on its Facebook page — 296 people commented — about 20 times more than average.
Most were against bringing them in.
One woman wrote: “If they’re illegal, do not allow them in.” There’s also this from a man: “Put them back on a boat or plan and send them right back.”
Those for it wrote: “An empty facility and people without a home seems like a perfect match,” and, “We’re all immigrants, remember?”