Hilton has issued a statement clarifying that its properties can’t be used as detention centers for detaining individuals, after it was determined that this was happening consistently at a few properties near the US border with Mexico.
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Hampton Inns have been housing migrant kids
A few days ago news broke that immigrant children as young as one year old are being detained at Hampton Inn properties. They are sometimes being kept there for weeks, before eventually being deported to their home countries. This is happening as the US asylum system has largely been shut down during the coronavirus pandemic.
These immigrant children are being detained by private contractors working on behalf of US Immigration and Customers Enforcement, at Hampton Inn properties near the Texas-Mexico border.
Records show that these hotels have apparently been used more than 200 times.
There has been outcry regarding the way these children have been detained, since the children are exposed to the risk of trauma, as they’re detained in places not designed to hold them. There are also questions about the credentials of the contractors who are overseeing this process.
ICE has declined to answer questions, only referring to these contractors as “transportation specialists” who are “non-law enforcement staff members trained to work with minors and to ensure that all aspects of the transport or stay are compliant.”
A few days ago a video went viral of an attorney who was trying to offer help to these children at a Hampton Inn. He was violently shoved into the hotel elevator and was told he couldn’t help. The contractors refused to identify themselves.
As this has received more media attention, Hilton has finally issued a statement.
Hilton properties won’t be used as detention centers
Following the outcry over this, Hilton issued the following statement:
We believe that hotels should be places of hospitality.
Hilton has confirmed reports that the independently owned and managed Hampton Inn & Suites in McAllen, TX had accepted reservations from a private contractor working on behalf of U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement. We understand these reservations were to house migrants, including minors, as they were transported between locations.
This is not activity that we support or in any way want associated with our hotels.
Our policy has always been that hotels should not be used as detention centers or for detaining individuals. We expect all Hilton properties to reject business that would use a hotel in this way. We are in the process of contacting all Hilton owners and management companies in the U.S. to remind them of our policy, and provide guidance on identifying and preventing this type of business.
We can also confirm that Hilton did not facilitate these reservations and does not have an enterprise agreement with the private contractor.
The ownership of the Hampton Inn & Suites in McAllen has tonight confirmed that they have cancelled this business and that the minors and chaperones are no longer at the hotel. They have also confirmed that their property will not accept similar reservations in the future.
This is one of the challenges with the way the major hotel groups work. Hilton has claimed that this has been the policy all along, but the hotel just choose not to follow it. Hampton Inns are largely franchised properties and there’s limited oversight.
A couple of days ago Castle Hospitality, which owns the properties in questions, issued the following statement, supporting the practice, by claiming to offer clean and safe accommodation for children:
“We understand these properties have been used for their intended purpose — temporary accommodation for guests traveling between locations.
We are not making any political statements one way or the other by taking in this group and we feel that anyone, especially children in such difficult circumstances, is entitled to safe and clean accommodations and that’s what we aim to provide. In our conversations with the group contact, we have been assured that all state and federal regulations are being followed.”
Hampton Inns near the US-Mexico border have been acting as detention centers for migrant children. In some cases children were detained for weeks, and these kids were sometimes as young as one year old.
Hilton has now clarified that it doesn’t support this practice, so these contracts at Hampton Inns will be ending.