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Several Phoenix-area hotels house migrant families seeking asylum

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Migrant families seeking asylum in the United States continue to be housed at Phoenix-area hotels, and Arizona’s top prosecutor questions whether that should be allowed.

One of the hotels is the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Phoenix/Chandler in Ahwatukee, which started operating in April. The former Homewood Suites hotel in Scottsdale just opened its doors to migrant families over the weekend.

Both hotels have been turned into “emergency family staging centers.”

The Texas-based nonprofit Endeavors is contracted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to manage the properties through Sept. 30. There are no plans to extend that or to start using other Phoenix-area hotels, according to a spokesperson for the nonprofit.

“The families that come into ICE custody will be housed in a manner consistent with legal requirements for the safety and well-being of children and their parents or guardians,” an ICE spokesperson told KTAR News 92.3 FM in an email.

Meanwhile, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said he’s worried the Scottsdale hotel is being turned into an ICE detention facility for up to 1,200 migrant adults and children.

In a letter he sent the hotel’s lender and borrower on Wednesday, he expressed “grave concerns about whether a detention facility is an appropriate and legal use” of the property.

“I am further writing to express public safety concerns about the decision to establish this 1,200 person detention facility at the hotel property,” Brnovich wrote, adding there’s no guarantee the migrants will not be released into the community.

Migrant families generally stay at the hotels for 72 hours for processing and to establish terms and conditions of release while their immigration proceedings continue, according to ICE. During their stay, they are under ICE custody and officers are on the property.

The migrants are also tested for COVID-19 and provided a space to quarantine if they test positive.

Ben Miranda, a spokesperson for Endeavors, said staff members help migrant families connect with sponsors, most of whom are outside Arizona. They’re provided transportation to bus stations and airports to help them reach their final destination.

Miranda stressed the hotels are not detention centers, but rather emergency family staging centers that take a holistic and humane approach to house migrant families. He added they haven’t had any issues.

The city of Scottsdale told KTAR News 92.3 FM in a statement it was notified on Friday of the Homewood Suites hotel being used “for intact families seeking political asylum” beginning Saturday.

“Scottsdale has no current authority to prevent the hotel from being rented for these immigrant families,” the statement read. “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the contractor who will operate the facility have provided assurances that they will be able to address any operational concerns that may arise.”

The city also said immigration is a federal matter over which the city has no responsibility or oversight. It encouraged anyone with concerns to contact their federal government representatives.

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