Hotel Chain Kicks Feds Out After Learning Immigrant Kids Are Being Detained In Rooms
A Hampton Inns & Suites location in McAllen Texas is cutting off a government contract after learning that the feds were using the rooms as a place to store immigrant kids on their way to deportation. The hotel’s official Facebook page carried an announcement, saying that the booking was canceled and “we will not accept further reservations of this type.”
The separation of immigrant children from their parents or guardians under the Trump administration has been the subject of lawsuits and protests. This weekend, civil rights attorneys sued the U.S. government on behalf of a group of immigrant children they said were being held in a Texas hotel. According to Courthouse News, an attorney tried to enter the hotel floor where they believed children were being held for deportation, and was pushed back into the elevator as he shouted for any detained persons to give him a name or phone number.
BREAKING: Our attorney was aggressively rejected from trying to offer help to immigrant children illegally detained at a Hampton Inn in McAllen, TX. He and another of our staffer were violently shoved into the hotel elevator and were told they could not offer help. #FreeThemALL! https://t.co/xSOxHOViKp pic.twitter.com/MEp7UmK6Gv
— Texas Civil Rights Project (@TXCivilRights) July 23, 2020
Fox 17 reports that civil rights groups filed for a temporary restraining order that would prevent “rapid expulsion” of the detained individuals. The two groups filing the suit, the Texas Civil Rights Project and the ACLU, shared information on Twitter. The TCRP noted that individuals were holding signs in the window of the hotel, pleading for help and saying they don’t have phones for the attorneys to contact them.
This is what we saw from the window of the Hampton Inn Hotel today. Families asking for help & telling us they have no phones. @DHSgov is keeping them in this black-site to expel them unless we raise hell
— Texas Civil Rights Project (@TXCivilRights) July 24, 2020
Late last night, we once again sued the federal government over this policy — this time on behalf of every child held at a hotel in McAllen, Texas — alongside @TXCivilRights, @Oxfam, and @CGRShastings.
Seeking safety is a human right. We should all be concerned.
— ACLU (@ACLU) July 25, 2020
As the video was shared across social media, the hotel responded publicly. In a Facebook post, they first assured the public that all immigrant minors and their government chaperones had been removed, and that the hotel would not accept a booking of this sort again, then updating to clarify that, while minors with government escorts had been removed, “a short grace period was requested to allow time to relocate a group of adults, some of whom have their children with them.” The hotel agreed to allow this, in light of COVID-19 and a hurricane.
Probublica reported back in May that the Trump administration was citing COVID-19 as an excuse to expedite deportations of minors, removing them from the custody of adults in the U.S. and deporting them alone, seemingly in violation of law.
Attorneys in lawsuits across the country argue that is a violation of both a 2008 law intended to protect migrant children from trafficking and a 1997 federal settlement forcing the government to hold such minors in “safe” conditions and make “prompt” efforts to release them.
The report notes that the children are often being removed from the care of adults in the U.S. — relatives or foster families — and deported, unaccompanied, across the border.