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Colorado Edition: A Look Inside Aurora's ICE Facility

Esther Honig
A contract between ICE and GEO earlier this year opened an additional 432 beds for immigrant detention until April 2020.

Today on Colorado Edition: two KUNC reporters reflect on their visit to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Aurora. Plus, we look ahead at the storylines we'll be watching this school year. And, we'll learn about how climate change is affecting military bases around the world and here in Colorado. Finally, how one local wildlife center is getting creative with the way they help wild baby birds. 

News of the day: 

  • High Capacity Magazines - Colorado's ban on high capacity magazines is constitutional. That's according to a brief filed by state Attorney General Phil Weiser. He filed the assertion in the pending case "Rocky Mountain Gun Owners vs. Polis." Weiser urged the Colorado Supreme Court to uphold the ban. The state passed the ban on magazines that hold more than 15 rounds in 2013 following the Aurora theater shooting. Rocky Mountain Gun Owners originally sued the state in 2016, and so far lower courts have upheld the ban.
  • EPA Lawsuit - A coalition of states and cities, including Colorado and Boulder, are challenging a federal rollback of an Obama-era climate rule. By getting rid of the Clean Power Plan, the lawsuit alleges that the Environmental Protection Agency is failing to regulate air pollutants that pose a risk to human health. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a release that the state owes future generations to treat climate change as a serious threat. 
  • Allegiant Flights - Starting this November, Allegiant Air will offer nonstop flights from the Northern Colorado Regional Airport in Loveland to Las Vegas and Phoneix. It's been seven years since the airport offered regular service to the public. Since then, it's added a first-of-its kind remote traffic control tower. Fares for the new routes start at $49. 
  • Vail Development Update - Vail's Planning and Environmental Commission met Monday to discuss the proposed Booth Heights development project that would bring 73 residential units to the town. The parcel that would be developed is already home to bighorn sheep. The commission decided to postpone the vote until Aug. 26. For more on this development, and the surrounding debate, listen to Monday's episode of Colorado Edition.

Visiting Aurora's Immigration And Customs Enforcement Facility

Credit Esther Honig / KUNC
The ICE detention facility in Aurora is 33 years old and was originally built to house 150 people. Today it houses 1232.

Conditions at the ICE facility were criticized in a recent report from the Office of the Inspector General. On Friday, the facility in Aurora opened its doors to the press.

John Fabbricatore, acting field office director, told KUNC's Esther Honig, "We want to make sure that we can open up this facility so that people can see for themselves what actually is going on in there." 

KUNC's Rae Ellen Bichell and Esther Honig went on a tour of the facility, along with 13 other reporters, and joined us to describe what they saw. 

Keenan Kellog
Credit Stephanie Daniel / KUNC
Kindergarten teacher Keenan Kellog works at Greeley-Evans School District 6.

School Year Storylines To Study

As the school year starts, we sat down with Erica Meltzer, Colorado bureau chief for Chalkbeat. Topics include a look at school safety, and a movement to rewrite the school funding formula.

Another big story this school year? The start of full-day kindergarten. We'll be covering that issue more next week. 

How Climate Change Will Affect A Chemical Weapons Depot In Pueblo

Credit Courtesy Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant
Courtesy Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant
The Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant is located on the Army's Pueblo Chemical Depot. The high-security plant is tasked with destroying 780,000 mustard gas shells and mortars stored here by December of 2023.

In addition to attacks from hostile forces, U.S. military bases around the world are facing a new threat: climate change. This issue recently took KUNC's Michael de Yoanna to a remote radar site at the Bering Strait for a collaboration with the public radio program Reveal. Now, Michael is looking at an Army depot in southern Colorado that's home to the country's largest stockpile of chemical weapons

Listen to Colorado Edition on Wednesday to hear more about Michael's trip to the Army Pueblo Chemical Depot. 

Wildlife Center Teaches Birds To Avoid Humans

Bird mask
Credit Jackie Hai / KUNC
Manoa puts on a feathered mask in the bird nursery just before feeding time.

It's the busy season for wildlife rescuers, with the greatest number of injured or orphaned animals coming in during the summer months. But how do you stop baby birds from imprinting on their human caretakers before being released back into the wild? One wildlife center in Longmont has a feathery solution. KUNC's Jackie Hai reports. 

Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you! 

Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music this week by Blue Dot Sessions

  • "Color Country" by The Balloonist
  • "Plum King" by Molerider
  • "Dash and Slope" by Castro

Colorado Edition is hosted by Erin O'Toole (@ErinOtoole1) and Henry Zimmerman (@HWZimmerman), and produced by Lily Tyson. The web was edited by digital editor Jackie Hai. News director Catherine Welch, managing editor Brian Larson, and reporters Leigh Paterson and Matt Bloom contributed to this episode. 

KUNC's Colorado Edition is a daily news magazine taking an in-depth look at the issues and culture of Northern Colorado. It's available on our website, as well as on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can hear the show on KUNC's air, beginning Sept. 2, Monday through Thursday at 6:30 p.m. 

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Stories written by KUNC newsroom staff.