Mumps Leads to Third Quarantine at Immigration Detention Facility

Conor McCormick-Cavanagh
Congressman Jason Crow and Allison Hiltz of Aurora City Council outside the immigration detention facility in Aurora.
There's been another infectious disease quarantine at the immigration detention facility in Aurora.

On Thursday, February 19, detainees who may have been inadvertently exposed to the mumps were quarantined, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“With the recent influx of migrants coming from the southern border, 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," says Jeffrey D. Lynch, the Denver ICE field office director.

This quarantine is the third at the facility, which is operated by the private prison company GEO Group, since October 2018. The two previous quarantines were the result of chicken pox outbreaks.

Newly elected congressman Jason Crow, who represents the district in which the detention center is located, held a press conference today, February 20, outside the facility to bring awareness to the quarantine.

"We're pretty concerned about the health and public safety concerns that are presented by this facility," he said.

Crow was joined by Allison Hiltz, a member of the Aurora City Council. "My concern is that this expansion was done without any notification to anyone within the city," said Hiltz, referring to a new 432-bed annex that opened at the detention center in January. "That means that the departments that are part of city services, like public safety, police and fire, were not aware that this was being expanded. That means if they were to respond to something here that's going on, they don't have complete information about what the size of the facility is or who's inside."

Crow and Hiltz had shown up unannounced to the facility today in the hopes of being able to inspect the premises. But they didn't even make it past the waiting room.

ICE says that it is open to allowing politicians and journalists inside the facility, but that tours need to be arranged in advance and approved by the Denver ICE field office director.

Crow and Hiltz said they left a letter with questions about the disease outbreaks for administrators at the facility. Crow sent the same letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.

In the letter, Crow noted that it is his belief that there is only one doctor for the facility, which can house up to 1,532 detainees.

ICE told us that GEO has beefed up its staff to handle the influx of new detainees that has come with the annex, which holds individuals for ninety days or less. (The main facility can hold detainees for longer periods of time.)

Crowd said he expects the Department of Homeland Security to answer his letter, which is below, within a week.