Hotel Chains Say They Will Not Let ICE Use Rooms as Temporary Detention Facilities

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
July 13, 2019 Updated: July 13, 2019

Several major hotel chains have said they will not open up their rooms for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as temporary space for those targeted in the scheduled immigration enforcement operation this weekend.

“We are not aware that any of our franchised hotels, all of which are independently owned and operated, are being asked to serve as detention facilities,” Choice Hotels, which owns a series of hotel chain brands such as Quality Inn, said in a statement on July 11. The statement was posted online by an immigration rights activist group.

“We do not believe hotels should be used in this way and will decline any requests to do so. We ask that our franchised hotels only be used for their intended purpose, which is to provide travelers with a welcoming hotel room,” the hotel group added.

Marriott International released a similar statement, saying that they will not allow the U.S. government to use their premises to “detain individuals.”

“Marriott International has had no indication that any of our hotels have been contacted by the U.S. government to be used to detain individuals. Our hotels are not configured to be detention facilities, but to be open to guests and community members as well,” the company said the statement. “While we have no particular insights into whether the U.S. government is considering the use of hotels to aid in the situation at the border, Marriott has made the decision to decline any requests to use our hotels as detention facilities.”

Some other hotels like Hilton have also confirmed that they will deny any requests by ICE to use their premises, according to Skift.

This follows news that the immigration enforcement operation to remove illegal immigrants with final orders of removal, including families whose immigration cases had been fast-tracked by a judge, will begin this weekend.

President Donald Trump confirmed that the operation will begin on July 14 and will focus on removing criminals.

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President Donald Trump stands with Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who announced his resignation, while talking to the media at the White House in Washington on July 12, 2019 (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

“There’s nothing to be secret about. ICE is law enforcement. They’re great patriots. They have a tough job. Nothing to be secret about. If the word gets out, it gets out. Because hundreds of people know about it. It’s a major operation,” Trump told reporters before boarding Marine One on July 12.

“It starts on Sunday, and they’re going to take people out and they’re going to bring them back to their countries. Or they’re going to take criminals out, put them in prison, or put in them in prison in the countries they came from. We’re focused on criminals as much as we can before we do anything else.”

The president has faced criticism for his decision to enforce immigration law against illegal immigrants who have ignored their court orders. Many of his opponents have urged him to call off the operation, saying that it would “tear families apart.”

“Families belong together. Every person in America has rights,” Pelosi said at a press conference on July 11. “These families are hard-working members of our communities and our country. This brutal action will terrorize children and tear families apart.”

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) answers questions during her weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on June 27, 2019. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

She also gave advice to illegal immigrants on how they could avoid arrest.

“An ICE deportation warrant is not the same as a deportation warrant. If that is the only document ICE brings to a home raid, agents do not have the legal right to enter a home,” she said.

“If ICE agents don’t have a warrant signed by a judge, a person may refuse to open the door and let them in. An administrative order of removal from ICE or immigration authorities is simply not enough. Families belong together; everyone in our country has rights. Many of these families are mixed-status families.”

Like Pelosi, other Democratic Congress members have given similar advice to illegal immigrants.

Trump has again defended the operation on July 12 saying that he has an obligation to enforce laws on people who have broken them.

groups of illegal aliens
U.S. Border Patrol agents detained two large groups of illegal immigrants consisting of over 400 people within five minutes in the El Paso area on March 19, 2019. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

“So people come into our country illegally. We’re taking them out legally. It’s very simple. It’s not something I like doing, but people have come into our country illegally,” he said. “We’re focused on criminals. We’re focused on—if you look at MS-13—but when people come into our country, we take those people out and we take them out very legally. They all have papers. And it’s a process. And I have an obligation to do it. They came in illegally; they go out legally.”

“We have millions of people standing in line waiting to become citizens of this country. They’ve taken tests. They’ve studied. They’ve learned English. They’ve done so much. It’s—they’ve been waiting seven, eight, nine years. We have some waiting 10 years to come in.  It’s not fair that somebody walks across the line and now they’ve become citizens of the United States,” Trump said.

The Pew Research Center recently found that there were about 10.5 million illegal immigrants present in the United States in 2017.

Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.