Hampton Inn Says it Didn't Realize Govt. Would Detain Kids at Hotels, Cancels Deal

A Hampton Inn located in McAllen, Texas, that was being used to detain immigrant children ahead of their deportations, has said it cancelled the booking after becoming "fully aware" of how the federal government was using its facilities.

On Saturday, Hampton Inn & Suites McAllen posted a statement to its Facebook page, which read that "all single immigrant minors and their chaperones" had since "departed the hotel."

The hotel said it made the decision to cancel its booking with a private contractor for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency after it discovered the true "nature" of the "government business we had booked."

"Over the past several days, we have been made fully aware of the nature of certain government business we had booked without realizing that rooms would be used to house immigrant minors," the hotel said. "We have decided to cancel this business immediately and will not accept further reservations of this type."

The decision came during widespread outrage after reporting from the Associated Press revealed that immigrant children were being detained in hotels, including the Hampton Inn location, before being deported out of the U.S. without consideration for asylum.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. asylum system has effectively ground to a halt, which immigration advocates has said has led to children being deported out of the country without due process.

Earlier this week, a video published to Twitter by the Texas Civil Rights Project showed an attorney with the organization being physically barred from entering a floor of the Hampton Inn hotel in McAllen by a group of men who refused to identify themselves.

The attorney was pushed into an elevator after trying to call out to detained children and offer legal support.

Hampton Inn & Suites McAllen did not respond to a request for comment from Newsweek on the incident.

In its Facebook post the hotel said it was never notified of the role its facilities would play in the deportations of immigrant children.

"Collectively, the hotel industry books numerous government rooms," the hotel said in its statement. "As a matter of course, the government does not always inform the hotel of the nature of their business the same as most citizen and corporate guests."

"We were not notified of the nature of their business when the rooms were booked," the hotel said of a private ICE contractor's booking to detain immigrant children.

The hotel did appear to suggest, however, that it was aware that children would be housed in its facilities, writing: "In light of the ongoing pandemic, quarantining rules and a literal hurricane bearing down on the area, a short grace period was requested to allow time to relocate a group of adults, some of whom have their children with them."

"Due to the circumstances, we agreed," it said.

In a statement sent to Newsweek on Friday, a spokesperson for Hilton, which owns Hampton hotels, said its hotels were "not designed to be used as detention centers, and we reject the idea of using them for this purpose. We expect our hotels to reject this business, and are actively reminding them of this expectation."

In an updated statement published on Hilton's website later that day, the company said it had confirmed the cancellation of Hampton Inn & Suites McAllen's cancellation of the government's booking.

"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," the hotel company said.

"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," the company said.

Hilton further sought to make clear that it did not "facilitate these reservations and does not have an enterprise agreement with the private contractor" involved.

"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," the company said.

Newsweek has contacted ICE for comment.

Hampton Inn
A sign marks the location of a Hampton Inn & Suites on September 12, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Hampton Inn is one of many hotel brands owned by Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. Both Hampton Inn & Suites McAllen and Hilton have said they were unaware of the nature of a government booking to house detained immigrant children ahead of their deportations out of the U.S. Scott Olson/Getty