AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– Several detainees at the Aurora ICE Detention facility are in limbo right now because they say issues with COVID-19 are prolonging their stays at the facility.
“What they’re doing with us here is unjust,” said Abel Guadarrama-Yanez, who’s waiting to be deported back to Mexico. “They’ve canceled two of my flights, and they’ve canceled at least three of my court dates.”
Guadarrama-Yanez has been at the facility since Nov. 16, 2021. He told CBS4 he feels like there’s no end in sight for him and just wants to be sent back home. Guadarrama-Yanez says COVID-19 is dragging out the process, leaving him and dozens of others behind bars for longer periods of time. Every time someone at the facility tests positive, the entire group waiting for a flight back to the homeland is canceled. The rise in COVID-19 cases is also delaying court hearings for many.
“They’re putting our lives at risk, and we can’t be with our families here or back home,” Guadarrama-Yanez said.
Abdulai Barrie has been at the facility for 9 months. His court date has been rescheduled at least four times.
“They refuse to take us to court,” said Abdulai Barrie. “It’s like we’ve just been kidnapped, and we’re sitting ducks.”
Dunglas Juaquin Guevara, 23, is also waiting for a hearing. He’s been behind bars for five months and said they’ve canceled his court hearing five times.
“They don’t want to give me bail and they also don’t want to deport me,” Guevara said. “I just want to help my family, whether it’s here or back in El Salvador.”
While U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement oversees deportations, the Executive Office for Immigration Review handles court hearings.
CBS4 reached out to ICE about the delay in deportations, and they sent CBS4 this statement, “ICE takes very seriously the health, safety and welfare of those in our care and is committed to ensuring they receive the rights and protections to which they are entitled under the law. While the impacts of COVID-19, including the timely receipt of travel documents from foreign governments, disruptions in commercial air travel, and quarantine procedures, have affected ICE operations, deportation officers continue to work as quickly as possible to effect the removal of non-citizens in custody.”
CBS4 reached out to EOIR, and is awaiting a response.
But for those like Guadarrama-Yanez, he’s willing to pay his own flight back to Mexico, just to get him out of the facility.
“That’s what I want, just to get out of here, deport me,” he said.
Guadarrama-Yanez, Guevara and Barrie are hoping the state leaders will hear their stories and help expedite the process for them to either be deported or get a court hearing.