AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A new report released Wednesday by the ACLU of Colorado suggests the operator of the ICE detention facility has placed profits over the people it serves. The report states the facility operator is allowing abuse of several detainees needing medical treatment.
“My dad was the smartest person I’d ever met, he was curious, he inventive, he was always focused on the next big thing,” said Neda Samimi-Gomez, the daughter of a detainee at the ICE facility in Aurora. “I don’t believe that my farther should have been picked up by ICE in the first place.”
Her father, Kamyar Samimi, was a legal permanent resident living in Colorado when he was taken into custody by ICE in 2017, according to Cashing in on Cruelty: Stories of Death, Abuse and Neglect at the GEO Immigration Detention Facility in Aurora. Samimi was detained for a controlled substance charge years ago that made his green card no longer valid, the report explains.
While inside the facility, he did not get the medication needed, the ACLU said. It’s a prescription his family and the organization say he used before entering the detention center and without it, he suffered withdrawal and was unable to eat and was in constant pain. After a little more than two weeks in custody, he died, according to the report.
“I think folks should be most concerned about a lack of basic human treatment,” said Arash Jahanian, a staff attorney with ACLU Colorado.
CBS4 toured the facility at the invitation of ICE in August. The agency said at the time they have enough medical staff on site and access to others if needed. They compared the treatment available to that patient’s experience on the outside. Staff also pointed to statistics that show ICE facilities perform better than many other federal prisons on standards including deaths while in custody.
“The Aurora Contract Detention Facility (ACDF) in Aurora, Colorado, is a humane, clean and professionally-run detention center that was most-recently inspected in October by an independent third-party inspector,” said a statement released by ICE on Wednesday. “The results of that inspection found the facility to be in compliance with all 41 areas inspected.”
The ACLU accuses The GEO Group, Inc. of failing to meet the standards of any detention center operator. The private company is contracted by the government to run the facility and the ACLU argues they should not be retained for that service. The report is more than 30 pages and outlines almost a dozen different cases where medical care was unacceptable in the analysis of the organization.
“This is understaffing and the staff who are there are neglectful and are not providing the proper treatment they need to detainees,” Jahanian told CBS4 on Wednesday.
The GEO Group released its own statement on Wednesday explaining that the processing center in Aurora has operated for more than 30 years under both Republican and Democratic administrations. The company goes on to say it meets the Performance-Based National Detention Standards, which it is held to by the government.
“The Aurora ICE Processing Center has approximately 46 medical positions,” the company statement said. “GEO’s medical program at the facility provides 24/7 medical services and is supported by a team of medical professionals that includes a full-time physician, a full-time physician’s assistant, a cadre of nursing services, dentist, psychologist, psychiatrist, and additional medical specialists as well as referrals to local community hospitals as needed.”
The ACLU wants the public to use the report as a motivation for change at the ICE facility. The organization demands GEO be held to higher standards and ultimately that the agency not rely on a private, for-profit corporation to operate the detention center.
“I would hope that what happened to my father would never happen again,” Samimi-Gomez said.