AURORA | Aurora City Council members are expected to take a formal vote Monday on whether to require detention facilities, such as the privately-run immigration detention facility in north Aurora, when there are disease outbreaks.
Protesters have scheduled an event for outside city hall before the city council meeting.
The ordinance, proposed by council member Allison Hiltz, follows a flurry of outbreaks at the immigration detention center in north Aurora 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 GEO Group Inc.-owned facility on Oakland Street. Chickenpox cases were reported at the facility last November, too.
Earlier this year, The Sentinel reported a miscommunication between GEO Group staff, ICE officials and the Tri-County Health Department regarding the reporting of infectious disease. Both the facility and TCH say reporting has improved.
The ordinance would apply to four facilities in Aurora: the GEO immigration prison as well as the Aurora municipal jail, Aurora Mental Health’s Crisis Stabilization Unit and Jefferson Hills treatment center. Those facilities would have to notify the Aurora fire chief of any outbreaks within 48 hours of a case occurring, according to the ordinance.
Hiltz has argued that first responders should have a clear idea about the health and safety of a detention facility if they’re ever to be called to an incident.
The vote is expected to take place after a public comment section that anti-ICE protestors are expected to speak during.
Protestors are planning a rally in front of Aurora City Hall prior to the council meeting, according to a Facebook event from the Abolish ICE Denver page.
“Although Aurora Mayor Bob LeGare has tried to deflect criticism, saying that ICE is a federal agency which the city cannot control, in fact Aurora is already assisting ICE in a number of ways!” the group wrote of the event. “The city minimally interferes with GEO Group, the multi-billion dollar prison corporation running an ICE concentration camp in Aurora under horribly inhumane, and even deadly, conditions. Mayor Bob LeGare has described Aurora’s relationship to GEO as just like ‘any other business.’”
— KARA MASON, Staff Writer