U.S. Rep. Crow demands answers about possible chickenpox outbreak at Aurora ICE facility

Democratic Congressional candidate for Colorado's 6th District Jason Crow addresses supporters after his victory during the Colorado Democrats watch party in Denver, Colorado, on November 6, 2018. Credit: JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images

AURORA, Colo. — Democratic Rep. Jason Crow went to ICE’s privately run Denver Contract Detention Facility in Aurora Wednesday seeking a tour. He was denied.

“There is an urgency to this, a public health emergency — knowing that there are multiple outbreaks of at least chickenpox and maybe mumps as well,” Crow told reporters Wednesday.

Crow’s visit comes on the same day he sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Crow’s concern stems from the recent expansion of the facility, which can now hold more than 1,500 detainees. The freshman congressman — who represents Aurora and other parts of the metro area — is seeking answers about recent reports surrounding a chickenpox outbreak, quarantines and the number of medical professionals on staff.

Below are the questions sent to the Department of Homeland Security:

  1. Please explain the number and types of disease outbreaks (i.e. chickenpox) and the number of outbreaks that have led to quarantines in the past year at the Denver Contract Detention Facility in Aurora. What are the reporting criteria and requirements for outbreaks and which entities receive the reports?
  2. What actions have ICE and GEO taken to respond to the recent varicella outbreaks and what measures are being put in place to prevent future outbreaks?
  3. Will ICE direct GEO to hire more properly trained medical staff to accommodate the increase in detainee admissions? Please also describe what contract requirements and oversight are in place to ensure that detainees receive proper medical attention.
  4. What requirements are in contract or other guidance with GEO to ensure that detainees are provided proper medical care?
  5. Please describe the contract relationship between ICE and GEO and attach copies of the relevant contract documents (e.g. agreements, MOUs, guidance, etc.).
  6. Since 2015, how many 911 calls were placed from the Facility to City of Aurora or State of Colorado emergency professionals?
  7. When privately run facilities fail to comply with code, ICE has the opportunity to issue compliance waivers essentially forgiving them for the breach. Has ICE issued any compliance waivers for the Facility? If so, how many, and what were the reasons for those waivers?
  8. Since 2015, has ICE submitted a Contract Discrepancy Report for the Facility following the granting of any compliance waivers? If so, please attach any and all such reports in your response.
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