Los Angeles Councilman Files Motion to Ban City Hotels from Holding Immigrants

On August 16th, 2020, The New York Times broke the story that the Trump Administration (through a private security company) is holding undocumented immigrants in hotels around the country, including in one private hotel located in the Chinatown neighborhood of Los Angeles. In doing so, the administration is working to rapidly expel vulnerable immigrants from the country.

In response, a local leader is now standing up and taking action to protect immigrants. According to a report from NBC Los Angeles, Councilman Gil Cedillo filed a motion to bar hotels and motels in our city from holding migrant children and families. Here is what we know about the administration’s latest attack on immigrant rights.

Migrants are Being Held at the Best Western Plus Dragon Gate Inn

During the COVID-19 pandemic, several federal courts have issued orders limiting detention at certain facilities to ensure proper social distancing. Lack of social distancing and sanitizing measures have been a serious problem in immigration detention centers all across the country.

The New York Times reports that the Trump Administration has essentially created a “shadow immigration enforcement system” to operate outside of the ordinary channels of oversight. Investigative reporters from The New York Times found that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is working with a private contractor that is holding migrant children and families in at least six hotels. The hotels cited in the report are located in Seattle, Phoenix, Miami, San Diego, El Paso, and Los Angeles. The Best Western Plus Dragon Gate Inn was the Los Angeles-based hotel cited in the story.

Strong concerns are being raised that the administration is quickly detained and expelling vulnerable immigrants—using these private hotels to facilitate its conduct. In response to the report, a representative for ICE said that children and families were being properly cared for, but also explicitly stated that they are pushing for quick expulsion from the country.

Los Angeles Councilman Gil Cedillo “Absolutely Appalled” By the Report

Councilman Gil Cedillo officially introduced the motion early this week. As he told reporters, he was “absolutely appalled” when he read the story from The New York Times. He made it very clear that the administration’s treatment of migrant children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic is “not acceptable.”

The Councilman’s motion will next be heard by the Los Angeles Planning and Land Use Management Committee. If enacted in a local ordinance, the motion would give Los Angeles regulators the authority to suspend the operating license of any hotel or motel that detains immigrants on behalf of the federal government.

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