Residents of the posh Gainey Ranch Golf and Country Club community received a message this week from their security team that a nearby hotel-turned-shelter was now housing refugees from Afghanistan. The message was prompted by a breach of security that landed Afghani refugees in the middle of the golf course.
“The Homewood Suites site is being used by the federal government to temporally house Afghan Refugees evacuated by the U.S. in August 2021. The families and individuals housed there are free to come and go as they please. This site will be used as a temporary housing facility while each resident/resident family is assigned to a sponsor family to live with throughout the greater Phoenix area. There are already resident Resident/Resident Families on site as they began moving them from military bases to the facility on 1/12. The site is expected to reach its max capacity of 300 residents within the next two weeks. After that there will be a steady decrease in residents until early April when the site is expected to close,” wrote Mike Anderson, Security Director for Gainey Ranch.
“Recently Security Patrol was called for individuals walking on the golf course,” continued Anderson. “These individuals who are found walking on the course GRCA believes are from the settlement program defined above and followed vehicles in through the north vehicle entry gate. The individuals were escorted out of the community.”
Anderson has contacted Scottsdale Police to assist in controlling this issue. At Gainey Security’s request, Scottsdale Police have contacted the group managing the refugees and asked them to place all refugees on notice of trespass related to Gainey property.
Anderson advised resident that Gainey Security has taken the following “proactive” steps:
- Extended staffed hours at North Gate
- Placed signs at the North gate in Afghan language for the refugees: No trespassing. Private property.
- Contacted SPD for extra patrols in and around the community
- Added cameras at the North gate
- Directed patrol to more frequent patrols in this area
Although residents of southern Arizona, playing on courses like Turquoise Valley, grew used to delaying their tee offs in order to avoid hitting illegal migrants crossing into the U.S. over the fairways, strangers just straggling across golf courses is a relatively new phenomenon for Arizonans living north of the Gila River.
Federal, state, and local officials have been criticized for the handling of the Afghani refugee settlement.
Abraham Hamadeh, a candidate in the Arizona Attorney General’s Republican Primary, discussed the lack of vetting conducted of the refugees by the Biden administration, in a recent opinion piece:
More than 60,000 Afghans were evacuated with the U.S. military during the chaotic withdrawal of Afghanistan in August. Of course, we have a duty to honor our commitment by not abandoning the Afghans who helped us during our 20-year war.
Recent events, however, raise concern whether the Biden administration is doing enough to vet refugees arriving on American soil.
In Wisconsin, for example, the FBI arrested two Afghan refugees for heinous crimes: one involving sexual assaults of a 12-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy, and the other involving domestic abuse. In New Mexico, the FBI is investigating a group of Afghan refugees who reportedly assaulted a female military service member.
The incidents occurred on U.S. military bases, where security ought to be the toughest.
By not properly vetting refugees, we do a disservice to the Afghans who served with us. No vetting is foolproof, and bad actors may still go undetected. However, a proper vetting process can greatly reduce the risk.
And the Arizona Daily Independent recently reported on Scottsdale parents questioning why they were not advised earlier that Afghan refugee minors will be enrolled in Scottsdale Unified School District classrooms near the shelter while they await relocation.
It wasn’t until last Friday, that Scottsdale Unified School District Superintendent Scott Menzel announced that the District would be receiving a large number of Afghan refugee students. Menzel was forced to finally make the news public after staff and multiple educators, shared an internal message from Cherokee Elementary Principal Walter Chantler out of frustration.
Both parents and teachers say the District should have been more forthcoming so as to garner support from the community for the students and their families, who will surely need all the help they can get.