ICE Does Exactly the Right Thing to a Pair of Third-Rate Hotels

By David North, September 17, 2012

Here's an immigration-enforcement story out of Kansas City that produces two useful insights:

  1. ICE can still do a bang-up enforcement job, if allowed to do so; and

  2. Some businesses kept afloat by low wages paid to illegals should be allowed to sink.

The story involves two hotels owned by the same couple, Munir Ahman Chaudary and Rhonda R. Bridge: a Clarion Hotel in Overland Park, Kan., and a Clarion Hotel at the Kansas City, Mo., airport.

The couple and one of their room clerks, Seyed Naqvy, an illegal alien once (apparently) in F-1 status, have been indicted on charges related to the employment of illegal aliens, and the government seeks to seize the hotels as a result, according to the Kansas City Star.

No slap on the wrist, no proposed fine, seizure! That's very refreshing, as were these words in the indictment:

The purpose … of the conspiracy was to make money and create wealth for [the] defendants … .

By … employ[ing] persons not lawfully in the U.S. [the] defendants … lowered their operating costs because the wages they paid to those workers were lower, they did not have to pay for workers compensation or unemployment insurance or other benefits paid to lawfully employed workers … result[ing] in … an increase in their profits.

An investigator, probably with ICE though the indictment is silent on that, secured a job as a housekeeper with the Overland Park hotel after telling the couple that he was not in the country legally. He soon secured detailed and damning information on the couple's employment and payment practices, there being several (genuine) illegals on the payroll.

When the case got to the U.S. Attorney for Kansas, Barry Grissom, the decision was made to indict the owners and hotel clerk on numerous federal charges, and to seek to seize the two hotels.

ICE rarely does this, but it should much more often. Incidentally, going after bigger game would be a good idea, too.

Meanwhile, one might bear in mind the marginal employers' frequently heard plea that illegal aliens are needed to preserve small business and to contemplate, in that light, whether these two hotels deserve to be preserved. The record is not persuasive.

The first thing noticeable as one reviews the court records in PACER, the federal courts' electronic data system, is that a year before ICE struck, the couple agreed to settlement of a civil suit against them of more than $380,000 filed by Wyndham Hotels, apparently for breach of contract with that nationwide hotel franchising operation. The only reason one would not fight such a payment in court is the knowledge that you are sure to lose. The PACER record in the civil case, in the federal district court in New Jersey, is 2:10-cv-02868-DMC-JAD; the criminal indictment can be found in the district court for Kansas as case 2:12-cr-20123-CM, Document 1.

A more accessible, and considerably less legalistic review of the Clarion Hotel at the Kansas City Airport can be seen at the TripAdvisor website.

The first five reviews say: "not recommended", "do not stay here", "this hotel is filthy", "plenty of hotels at the airport stay somewhere else", and "dirty". It was rated 78th in popularity of 110 hotels in Kansas City, so it was not quite the worst of the bunch. The TripAdvisor reviews of the other hotels were more pleasant.

So, if the feds do seize these properties, it may be a legal victory for the U.S. Attorney's Office, but may not bring much cash to the U.S. Treasury, once the civil suit is paid in full and other debts are discharged.