AURORA | A group of anti-ICE protestors broke out in chants during an Aurora City Council meeting Monday night, prompting the meeting to come to a halt while some council members left the dais and police escorted the demonstrators outside.
About 60 people, part of a larger effort dubbed “Abolish ICE Denver,” rallied in front of city hall prior to the meeting. They then took to the public comment section to demand the city do more to distance itself from federal immigration enforcement policies and the privately-owned GEO Group Inc. immigration detention center in north Aurora.
The Abolish ICE group, which consisted of members of 11 advocacy groups, made six demands of the city council: end using city resources to help ICE enforcement, prohibit any participation in ICE functions, divest from companies like GEO Group Inc., use city funds to pay for legal representation and bond for detained immigrants, prohibit Aurora police from profiling prior to making stops, pass an ordinance mandating immigrants with illegal status can contact emergency services without the threat of being arrested, and request that the police release the entire record of an Aug. 24 incident that led to the death of Elijah McClain.
Aurora doesn’t invest any of its funds in private prisons for its pension plans and the police department’s immigration policy remains that officers won’t participate in ICE sweeps or arrest people solely based on their immigration status.
“They do not and will not ask a person about their immigration status. It is not our practice to report to other agencies who we speak with or what their immigration status is for being in this country or in our city,” police wrote in a blog post earlier this year. “Regardless of a person’s immigration status, anyone who violates a city ordinance or state law will still be subject to arrest and prosecution.”
Council members Allison Hiltz, Crystal Murillo, Nicole Johnston and Angela Lawson remained in their seats while the protestors made their way out of the chamber. Aurora police officers blocked access to another door to the city council chamber.
Following the protest, city council members approved an ordinance requiring all detention centers, including the GEO Group facility, to report communicable diseases to the fire department.
The ordinance, proposed by council member Allison Hiltz, follows a flurry of outbreaks at the immigration detention center from earlier this year. She told council members at the group’s study session last month that those incidents identified a gap in city code.
From the beginning of the year through mid-March, there were 15 cases of mumps and nine cases of chicken pox reported at the facility on Oakland Street. Chickenpox cases were reported at the facility last November, too.
At-large member Johnny Watson was the sole “no” vote on the measure.