AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– Mumps have been confirmed at the ICE facility in Aurora. Congressman Jason Crow wants to hear from the Department of Homeland Security about the situation with mumps, reported chicken pox and facility expansion at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility.
ICE responded to the mumps case with this statement, “With the recent influx of migrants coming from the southern border, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has confirmed one new case of parotitis, mumps, at our Denver Contract Detention Facility. Medical personnel are credited with reducing the further infection of detainees by their quick reaction to quarantine everyone who may have been inadvertently exposed to stop the spread of the disease. Each detainee receives a medical examination upon arrival at the facility to check for potential signs of illness, however ICE has no way of knowing what viruses a person may have been exposed to prior to entering the facility. Mumps is highly contagious, easily contracted by nearby people and difficult to detect until symptoms appear. ICE and the medical professionals employed by GEO took the necessary steps to quickly isolate the exposed detainees, provide proper medical care and prevent further spread of the disease. Preventative steps included education, early recognition, and following the guidelines established by the CDC and Immigration Health Services Corps (IHSC). We strive to ensure people in our care are treated with compassion and we work to get them back to health as quickly as possible while mitigating the spread of this and all diseases.”
A private contractor runs the facility on Oakland Street. Crow, a Democrat representing Aurora and Adams County, contends the facility has been remodeled to increase the number of detainees by several hundred.
In particular, Crow is concerned about reports of chicken pox outbreaks.
“There are workers, people and family members who are coming and going from this facility into our community– every day and if there are continued outbreaks we are very concerned about that from a public health and safety perspective,” said Crow during a visit to the facility on Wednesday.
Raymondo Aguirre’s brother is one of those being detained in the suddenly expanding facility. He wants to see his brother who is inside.
Through his brother’s attorney Raymondo said, “He is concerned about people from the border not sure how they are treating them here, if they are putting them in isolation.”
Four hundred and thirty-two new beds have been put in place at the old ICE facility next door.
Crow says he wants to know if the staff to oversee the detainees has been increased and if the backlog in processing detainees is the reason for the increase.
“This was unannounced the expansion of this facility, the City of Aurora didn’t know
About, me as the congressman who represents this district, didn’t know about it.”
Crow and Aurora City Councilwoman Allison Hiltz said it was important to know what is going on inside the federally supervised facility for health and safety reasons.
They were turned away when they asked for a tour. ICE said that is done by appointment only.
Crow says he expects it will take several days to get a response to his letter.
CBS4 asked Sarah Jackson what she had heard. Her organization Casa de Paz has volunteers inside regularly to visit inmates.
“The person that they were to visit was quarantined because someone in their pod had chicken pox,” said Jackson.
She says that means they can’t meet lawyers or even leave the facility if they have won their cases.
Raymondo Aguirre told us his through his brother’s attorney, Eric Martinson, that conditions are bad.
“My client said for the last three days had air conditioning on like penguins, shivering without enough blankets or clothes to stay warm.”
ICE responded to Crow’s visit with this statement, “In January 2019, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters authorized the opening of the recently remodeled 432-bed facility adjacent to the Denver Contract Detention Facility to house new detainees in Aurora, Colorado for 90 days. Detainees in the annex receive hot meals and medical care including daily medications. The open environment allows for detainees to socialize. In addition, all pods have regularly serviced phones for detainees to contact family members and support groups. Mobile phones are also available for private calls to legal teams. ICE takes very seriously its responsibility to care for detainees. Inaccurate news releases detract from our core mission of detaining and removing criminal aliens from our community to protect public safety.”
In another statement ICE wrote, “ICE is committed to ensuring that everyone in our custody receives timely access to medical services and treatment. Comprehensive medical care is provided from the moment detainees arrive and throughout the entirety of their stay. All ICE detainees receive medical, dental and mental health intake screening within 12 hours of arriving at each detention facility, a full health assessment within 14 days of entering ICE custody or arrival at a facility, and access to daily sick call and 24-hour emergency care. Pursuant to our commitment to the welfare of those in the agency’s custody, ICE spends more than $250M annually on the spectrum of healthcare services provided to detainees.”.