AURORA, Colo. -- U.S. Rep. Jason Crow visited the Aurora GEO ICE detention facility Monday, one year after the Congressman and his staff were denied entry.
Since then, the Congressman helped pass the Public Oversight of Detention Centers Act, otherwise known as the POD Act, to make sure Congressional staff would be able to gain access to this facility and others like it from now on.
Rep. Crow’s staff now visits the facility every week to check in on its operations.
“What we are hoping to (do) is serve as an example that transparency and accountability matter,” Rep. Crow said.
During Monday’s visit, the Congressman said he visited the annex where transgender detainees are being held to make sure they are getting the health care they need.
He also spent time meeting with the facility’s medical staff to speak about recent reports of disease outbreaks.
“They are dealing with the flu outbreak and a mumps outbreak, but they seem to be under control at this point,” he said. “We just want to make sure people are being given access to immunizations and the health services they need.”
Over the weekend, ICE officials sent a statement to Denver7 saying 70 detainees at the Aurora facility had contracted mumps and 71 had contracted the flu. The Congressman’s team also spent time with the medical staff discussing the potential for the coronavirus to make its way into the facility.
“We had a fairly lengthy discussion with the doctor and help administrators today to make sure that they are taking measures to prevent the coronavirus outbreak. It’s confined largely overseas right now, but as the virus spreads, we wanted to make sure the facilities like this who (sic) are receiving detainees from around the country and folks from around the world, that they are properly equipped, trained and staffed to deal with an outbreak,” Rep. Crow said.
The staff has also been receiving reports on a weekly basis from the facility about the food after detainees complained that they were served expired food and moldy bread last month.
Despite all of this, Rep. Crow says there are still issues with transparency at the facility that he is working to address.
“We push really hard to increase medical personnel and transparency and oversight at all of these facilities,” he said.
One of the issues facilities are facing is a backlog of health care professionals who are waiting on background checks before being hired. It’s something Rep. Crow said he is working to address.
After the impeachment
After playing a key role in the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Trump, Rep. Crow took some time Monday to reflect on the process.
“It wasn’t a result we were looking for but we’re going to make sure that we continue to hold the president accountable,” he said.
While he was disappointed in the outcome, Rep. Crow said he still believes the President broke the law to advance his own personal and political interests.
In the aftermath, several people in national security roles have been removed from their positions, such as Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and his brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman as well as Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.
Rep. Crow is keeping a close eye on them because he believes these removals are setting a dangerous precedent.
“It continues to get more and more dangerous as this president continues to put political loyalists in very important, critical national security roles, national security roles that are traditionally filled by lifetime civil servants, people who have spent their lives working in military and national security positions, that have the experience the background and the integrity to fill the job. Instead, this president is filling it with people who are loyal to him and are telling him what he wants to hear. It’s a very dangerous trend,” Rep. Crow said.
For now, the Congressman said he and fellow Democrats will continue to subpoena documents to increase transparency and accountability in the White House. They’re hoping that, by doing so, Democrats will be able to educate voters about what is happening and let them decide whether the President and others should stay in power.
“A lot of what we have to do right now is just make public what his administration is doing, so that the American people have access to that information and know what is happening and what is being done in their name,” Rep. Crow said.
Rep. Crow is facing one Democratic contender in Jaimie Kulikowski as well as Republican rivals in his effort for reelection. On Monday, the Congressman also hosted a townhall discussion at Aurora Central High School to speak with constituents about what’s happening in Congress.