Texas Attorney 'Violently' Forced Out of Hotel While Trying to Help Detained Kids

A Texas immigration attorney was "violently" forced out of a hotel in McAllen after trying to help immigrant children believed to be held there before being deported out of the U.S.

In a video posted to Twitter by the Texas Civil Rights Project, one of the organization's attorneys could be seen trying to enter the Hampton Inn hotel, which is owned by Hilton and where the Associated Press recently reported immigrant children as young as one-year-old were being held before being expelled out of the country.

According to the AP, the Trump administration has been detaining children in hotels for weeks, in some cases, before deporting them to their home countries without any consideration for asylum due to coronavirus policies that have effectively put the U.S. asylum system on pause.

In the video, the immigration attorney can be seen entering one of the hotel's floors from an elevator, before encountering three men wearing face masks.

Second video. Reminder: These individuals shoving our staff are hired by @DHSgov to care for CHILDREN. #FreeThemAll pic.twitter.com/Kwvefs0PVQ

— Texas Civil Rights Project (@TXCivilRights) July 23, 2020

"Can we see your badges sir?" one of the men appears to ask the attorney.

"You can't come here. You can't be here," the attorney is then told.

After the attorney asks who the men are, a second man says: "Can I ask who you are, sir?"

The attorney then begins to shout towards the hotel room doors behind the three men, in a bid to identify himself as an attorney and ask anyone who can hear him to give him their names.

That is when the second man grabs him and another person who is filming the incident back towards the elevator.

"If you're smart you're going to get out. Get out if you're smart," one of the men says.

The attorney repeatedly demands to know the identities of the three men, asking who they are and whether they are police.

"Don't worry about who we are," they shout, telling him to "get out."

In a second video, the attorney claims that he has a hotel room at the Hampton Inn.

However, the three men say it is "guaranteed" he does not have a room on that specific floor, before forcing him to leave.

"Our attorney was aggressively rejected from trying to offer help to immigrant children illegally detained at a Hampton Inn in McAllen," the organization said. "He and another of our staffer were violently shoved into the hotel elevator and were told they could not offer help."

Rather than leaving, however, TCRP attorneys, staff and supporters stood outside the hotel, holding up signs with their phone numbers to offer their support to detained children and other migrants and asylum seekers housed in the building.

Some detainees, the organization said, responded, holding up signs in their windows asking for help.

Now we are standing outside the hotel with signs showing our legal hotline hoping the people inside- children and asylum seekers- can reach out to us for help. Some are holding small signs trying to communicate with us. #FreeThemAll pic.twitter.com/akIJ8tsPwU

— Texas Civil Rights Project (@TXCivilRights) July 23, 2020

According to the AP, detained children are being held in three Hampton Inn & Suites hotels in Arizona and at the Texas-Mexico border.

The hotels have been used nearly 200 times, as more than 10,000 beds for children continue to sit empty at government shelters amid the pandemic, the press agency reported.

Immigration attorneys and advocates have warned that migrant children face additional risk of trauma being housed in places that are not designed to hold minors and where proper care may not be being provided.

They have sought to challenge the use of hotels as detention spaces under the Flores court settlement, which outlines requirements for the care of detained minors.

"They've created a shadow system in which there's no accountability for expelling very young children," Leecia Welch, an attorney at the nonprofit National Center for Youth Law, told AP. "There really aren't enough words to describe what a disgraceful example of sacrificing children this is to advance heartless immigration policies."

Newsweek has contacted TCRP, Hampton Inn as well as federal agencies involved with overseeing the care of detained children, for comment.

Hampton Inn
A sign marks the location of a Hampton Inn & Suites on September 12, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Migrant children are being held by the federal government in Hampton Inn & Suites hotels in Arizona and Texas, before being deported out of the country, according to the Associated Press. Scott Olson/Getty