Q&A About the Aurora Detention Center
How many are detained? How many men, women?
The Aurora ICE detention center has capacity for about 1500 adults, spread across two buildings. Usually the men greatly outnumber the women there (I would guess 90%/10%, but I don't know for sure). I don't know how many individuals are currently there - I believe they reduced their occupancy when COVID hit. They are operated by a for-profit company called GEO Group. Here's their website where you can see more about them: https://www.ice.gov/detention-facility/aurora-contract-detention-facility
Are there children there?
No, but ICE recently opened a facility for unaccompanied minors in Westminster. The last I heard it was operated by a for-profit company called Devereux under the guidance of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
How long is the usual stay?
This depends on each individual's legal situation. I'm aware of asylum seekers who have been there 4 years. I would guess a typical stay is between 6 months and 1 year.
What does it take to be released?
The individual either needs to win their immigration case, or they need to be released on parole or bond, which means they are allowed to live independently or with a sponsor family until the date of their final hearing.
I saw a show on the news about a house in Aurora that is serving as a halfway house but forgot the name.
This is Casa de Paz, and they do amazing work. Here's their website: https://www.casadepazcolorado.org/
What are the needs of the people released?
Casa de Paz specializes in this, and they pick up immigrants from the detention center, give them a backpack with clothing, and help them get bus or plane tickets to get to wherever they are going.
What sort of help could League members provide?
What help is needed?
One of the things that would be most helpful now is if League members could help us advocate for publicly funded legal representation for detained immigrants. 70 percent of immigrants detained in Aurora have no legal help, and so face a complex situation in their non-native language alone. There is an amazing non-profit called RMIAN (Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network) who has staff attorneys and also recruits pro-bono attorneys to represent for free as many detained immigrants as they are able, but that only covers 30% of the population.
When people face criminal charges, the government pays for a defense attorney because the consequences can be so severe--loss of life or liberty. The consequences can be just as severe for immigration court, yet there is no guarantee of legal representation. Currently, there is a big effort by CIRC (Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition) to ask the City of Fort Collins, Larimer County, and the State of Colorado to provide funding for immigrant legal defense. Here is a presentation about this and their other priorities:
A big need that the Foothills Sanctuary Everywhere program works on is finding sponsors that are willing to allow the immigrants to live with them until their final asylum hearing. This is the only way that some asylum seekers can be released from detention, so if any League members would consider hosting an immigrant in their home, that would be amazing. They would have the support of an entire village of volunteers to assist them. If anyone is interested in learning more about this, we have a series of training videos they could watch to learn more.