AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – President Joe Biden is clear about his desire to end the use of private prisons in the United States, and the Aurora City Council is backing that move. A letter to the president was approved Monday night.
In their regular meeting on Monday, city councilors were largely split on the letter. The final vote approving the letter was 6-4, with council members Lawson, Hiltz, Johnston, Murillo, Coombs, and Marcano voting in favor.READ MORE: Colorado Weather: Winter Weather Advisory For The Front Range
Mayor Mike Coffman stood opposed, but because the vote did not result in a tie, he did not need to vote to break the tie. He will sign his name to the letter.
However, Councilmember Dave Gruber said he did not support the letter and asked for notification of when the letter was sent so he could send a counter letter.
The letter also asked the president to extend the cancellation of private prison contracts to those who detain immigrants. Aurora is home to the GEO detention facility, a location run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement where agents house those apprehended for immigration violations.READ MORE: Mauricio Anchondo-Olivas Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murder Of Former Roommate
“As you know during the last administration immigrants and immigrant’s rights had been under intense attack. They have been subjected to well-documented inhumane conditions within the GEO Group, a private company that has a detention facility in Aurora,” the letter reads in part. “Considering all this, the City Council of the City of Aurora respectfully requests that your administration also cancel the outstanding contracts with private detention facilities engaged in the business of detaining immigrants.”
In response to the letter, a GEO Group spokesperson said the group was disappointed in the council’s stance against the prison.
“It is disappointing that the city would officially attack and disparage a long-standing, legally operating contractor that has been in the Aurora community for more than three decades and has operated pursuant to contracts with Democratic and Republican administrations,” the statement read. “As a service provider to the federal government, GEO plays no role in passing immigration laws, and we have never taken a position on immigration policies, whether it be the length of stay at immigration processing centers or the adjudication and outcome of immigration proceedings. Our only mission is to deliver high-quality services in a safe and humane environment to those entrusted to our care in compliance with the federal government’s Performance-Based National Detention Standards established under the Obama-Biden Administration. The message being sent from the Aurora City Council is a denigration to the hundreds of front-line employees, many of whom are local residents in the community, who strive every day to provide the highest quality services to the individuals entrusted to our care.”
In his first week in office, President Biden ordered the U.S. Justice Department to end reliance on private prisons and noted the federal government needed to change its entire approach on racial equity.MORE NEWS: PHOTOS: Cheesman Park Homes & Governor's Mansion Vandalized With Spray Paint
“We must change now,” President Biden said. “I know it’s going to take time, but I know we can do it. And I firmly believe the nation is ready to change. But government has to change as well.”