By Corinne Murdock
A woman who’d immigrated legally to the United States filed an amicus brief against the sheltering of migrants in a Scottsdale hotel. Concerning the June 4 filing, the woman, Yvonne Cahill, told AZ Free News that she’d gone through all the legal processes without any extra assistance from federal agencies or free passes on testing.
“I came to the USA as an immigrant and I did it legally. No federal agency paid for my immigration attorney, put me up in a hotel room, or bought me a ticket to go visit relatives. In addition, I was required to take an oral, written exam and pass a physical exam. I had been working as a registered nurse in the USA for several years, but this was still a condition for citizenship,” wrote Cahill. “We need to fight against the federal government overreach into our communities.”
Cahill filed the brief under the ongoing case against Woodbridge Hospitality, the company that established the hotel with borrowings from Wilmington Trust. The brief explains that Cahill is a unique authority on this issue. Not only does Cahill reside in a community near the detention center, and she understands the legality and impact of the situation due to her real estate practice.
“Local government is in the best position to assess and safeguard such interests and the public has an interest in ensuring that its eminently reasonable determination not to allow such a location to be used as a detention facility should be respected,” wrote Cahill.
In her brief, Cahill cited correspondence from Wilmington Trust, which pointed out that Woodbridge Hospitality’s contract with the federal government to convert the hotel would convert it into a “low security prison on busy Scottsdale Road.”
Further, the brief noted that the hotel’s usage as a detention center violated Scottsdale’s zoning regulations. Cahill cited the property’s zoning designation, which was for travel accommodations for under 30 days.
“Detainees who are to be held indefinitely cannot satisfy the thirty-day requirement. Since detainees are to be held under guard, they also hardly qualify as guests. In addition, such use hardly conforms to the policy purpose of R-5 zoning, as expressed by the Scottsdale City Council, to ‘promote and preserve’ single-family residential development as well as to allow for uses ‘incidental’ to such development,” wrote Cahill.
ICE spokespersons told AZ Free News that the intent is to have each migrant out of the facility within 72 hours. In the event that a migrant tests positive for COVID-19, that individual would have to remain quarantined for 10 days. The spokespersons said that this amount of time allowed officials to process and establish the proper terms and conditions of release while the individual’s immigration proceedings continue.
Cahill added in her brief that the detention facility was contrary to the public interest. She emphasized the importance of honoring the balance of powers embodied by local elected representative’s local zoning and land use lawmaking.
“To allow a private company to violate the ordinances put in place by Scottsdale City Council at the behest of the executive branch of the federal government impermissibly violates the separation of powers,” wrote Cahill. “State and local powers cannot be ‘bargain[ed] away’ even when it is the state doing the bargaining, much less a private party.”
Property values, the local tourism industry, and public safety would all be jeopardized, in Cahill’s estimation. She explained that realtors such as herself would be mandated to disclose the detention center’s existence to potential buyers, thereby deterring buyers and depressing home values in the community. Cahill shared that at least one of her clients has already been harmed financially by the detention center because he can no longer sell his home.
Others within the community have responded negatively to the hotel’s usage as well. Following news of the hotel’s conversion into a holding facility for migrants, protesters showed up to the hotel in droves.
The hotel is currently contracted to operate as a detention center until the end of September, at least.
Read the full amicus brief here:ECR Amicus Brief
Corinne Murdock is a contributing reporter for AZ Free News. In her free time, she works on her books and podcasts. Follow her on Twitter, @CorinneMurdock or email tips to email@example.com.