Hotel group condemns Trump administration’s use of hotels to hold migrant kids

The nation’s largest hotel industry group is condemning the use of hotels to detain migrants amid reports that the Trump administration secretly held minors about to be deported at Hampton Inn and Suites hotels in Phoenix and cities in Texas, reports the Arizona Republic, which is a part of the USA TODAY Network.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association is urging its 26,000 members not to book rooms to federal agencies for the purpose of detaining people.

“Hotels are in the hospitality business. They are not intended or equipped to serve as detention centers or for detaining people,” the group said in a written statement.

The hotel association’s statement encourages “hoteliers to be vigilant against suspicious booking tactics that may be used to disguise the true purpose of a reservation.”

The statement provided Friday to The Arizona Republic comes after The Associated Press reported in July that the Trump administration was secretly holding children as young as 1, sometimes for weeks, at Hampton Inn and Suites hotels in Phoenix, El Paso and McAllen, Texas, instead of state-licensed shelters.

A Hampton Inn is shown July 21, 2020, in Phoenix. The Trump administration is detaining immigrant children as young as 1 in hotels before deporting them to their home countries.
A Hampton Inn is shown July 21, 2020, in Phoenix. The Trump administration is detaining immigrant children as young as 1 in hotels before deporting them to their home countries.

The children were held at the hotels, instead of at state-licensed shelters, under a policy to quickly deport undocumented migrants, including asylum-seekers, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the AP reported.

Following an outcry from immigrant advocacy groups, Hampton Inn hotel representatives said migrant children were no longer being held on their properties.

The Associated Press, citing data it had obtained, reported that the Hampton Inn hotels in Arizona and Texas were used nearly 200 times, even though there was capacity at state-licensed shelters normally used to detain migrant children. The data showed 50 separate stays in April and June at the Hampton Inn Phoenix-Airport North. 

The Hampton Inn Phoenix-Airport North is pictured on July 24, 2020, in Phoenix.
The Hampton Inn Phoenix-Airport North is pictured on July 24, 2020, in Phoenix.

Dallas-based Remington Hotels, which manages the Hampton Inn Phoenix-Airport North, said it was unaware when it entered into a contract with a private contractor that a block of rooms booked would be used to detain migrant children.

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