FIRST ON FOX: Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is urging the Biden administration to reverse a move to turn a hotel in Arizona into a massive facility to keep migrants who have recently crossed the border as part of the effort to handle the surge in migrants at the border.
Brnovich, in a letter to the heads of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), expressed “grave concerns” about an ICE contract with a hotel in Scottsdale, which he says is near a residential neighborhood and a school.
“I was extremely disappointed to learn about this through a newspaper report rather than any prior contact from DHS or ICE, even though there are important public safety issues involved in locating any detention center in a community setting,” he wrote.
As the administration scrambled to deal with a massive spike in migrant numbers at the border, including migrant families and unaccompanied children, ICE began providing emergency temporary shelter via a short-term contract in Texas and Arizona. The shelters are known as Emergency Family Staging Centers and are part of an $86.9 million contract to house up to 1,200 migrants.
ICE had previously told Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s, D-Ariz., office that ICE was using “several hotels along the southwest border, including in Chandler and Phoenix.”
An ICE spokesperson told Fox the families “are housed in a manner consistent with legal requirements for the safety and well-being of children and their parents or guardians.”
“Custody is intended to be short term, generally less than 72 hours, to allow for immigration enforcement processing and establishing appropriate terms and conditions of release while their immigration proceedings continue. All families will be tested for COVID-19 and receive a health assessment,” the spokesperson said.
But the hotels have proven to be controversial in areas where they have been established, part of a broader pushback from state lawmakers and others about migrants being moved to their states.
KPHO reported that about 200 protesters gathered outside the hotel last week and voiced their concerns about the practice, including whether some would be released into the local community.
In his letter, Brnovich said there was no guarantee that housing the detainees “would not result in some of them being released into the community” and pointed to recent narrowing of ICE enforcement priorities by the Biden administration.
“Given this, if the prime contractor is unable to place particular detainees, it is foreseeable that ICE could simply release the detainee into the community because they do not fall within the Biden administration’s extremely narrow ‘enforcement priorities,’” he wrote.
His letter requests answers about the process, including how migrants are being screened for diseases and criminal records, as well as the cost to the taxpayer. He also asks if ICE’s “sensitive location” policy — which stops ICE arrests near schools and churches — would prevent the agency from arresting an escaped detainee.
“There are many serious questions about DHS and ICE’s actions in the current border crisis,” Brnovich wrote. “And it appears that DHS and ICE are attempting to circumvent any state or local involvement in the decision to establish this detention facility.”