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Change to immigration policies coming this summer

Federal policy changes may impact the immigration system as well as detention facilities. A Colorado bill also seeks to change the process.

AURORA, Colorado — Immigration policy may be changing this summer on the federal level, and a bill going to the Colorado state legislature may also impact immigration locally. 

Title 42 is expected to be lifted next month. It was created to address public health due to the pandemic, but advocates say it was used instead to limit border crossings. Biden has kept the Trump-era policy in place.

Title 42 also meant that those crossing the border would immediately be expelled and removed from the United States without granting an opportunity to apply for asylum. The policy claimed that migrants in federal custody would create a public health risk. 

Some immigration advocates say lifting Title 42 will create more of an influx of migrants to the United States and therefore, potentially more detainees in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention. 

"Our capacity is fluid, and so where the administration or the agency requires detention, we remain available. We have no expectations or predictions. We just continue to support the ICE missions," Deputy Field Officer Director Kelei Walker said of Title 42. Walker's based at the Aurora ICE Detention Facility.

Locally in Colorado, a bill going through the legislature, if passed, would limit agreements local jurisdictions can make with ICE. Those agreements allow jails in Colorado to help ICE with detainment. 

"We have a mission to execute that mission everyday no matter where we are at and we will continue to do that," Walker said when asked about the bill. "We like to work hard and work with our partners. At the end of the day, we will execute our mission, such as if it’s in a custodian setting or a jail or another prison. Or we will execute it in an at-large environment." 

Critics of ICE detention centers say the majority of facilities are actually run by private companies. The Aurora facility is run by GEO. President Biden created an executive order that limits contracts for private prisons, but immigration advocates say it should have extended to ICE detention facilities as well. 

"We don’t have the capacity to run our own detention facilities. It’s not something that we are congressionally funded for. If we had the money and the personnel to support the non-privatized mission, we would do that. But for now, we rely on partnerships to execute our mission with a small footprint of allocated employees that we have available to us," Walker said. 

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