Trump Admin Says Immigrant Children Held at Texas Hotel Will Not Be Deported

The Trump administration has agreed to let immigrant children who were being held at a Hampton Inn hotel in Texas stay in the U.S., rather than being deported out of the country under rules implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of being forced to return to their home countries, the children are being transferred into the custody of the Health and Human Services department's Office of Refugee Resettlement.

In a legal filing published online by Law360 and dated to Monday, the Department of justice said: "The government hereby represents that the unnamed single minors who were at the identified hotel on July 23, 2020 and still in the United States…are being processed or will be processed under the immigration procedures set out in Title 8 of the U.S. Code," rather than under new immigration guidelines launched in the wake of the pandemic.

The development comes after immigrant children were moved out of Hampton Inn & Suites McAllen hotel after the company cancelled the government's booking.

The hotel said it had not realized the "nature" of the government's booking when it was made and did not support the use of its facilities for the detention of children.

"The children that were being kept at a hotel—where no other government agency would know they exist—are being transferred to ORR custody due to our efforts," the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) confirmed in a statement shared with Newsweek.

In an additional statement published on Twitter, the rights group said the Trump administration's decision was a "clear admission of wrongdoing."

While the organization celebrated the victory, it said there were still families that were being held in the Hampton Inn & Suites McAllen hotel "under the cover" of Hurricane Hanna that could still be forced to leave the U.S.

"We'll continue our efforts to stop this," the organization said.

"Today we stopped the illegal disappearing of unaccompanied children by the Trump administration. But for the efforts of the brave people who exposed this illegal practice that has already affected tens of thousands of asylum seekers, the government would be perfectly happy to expel children without a trace," Efren Olivares, the legal director of TCRP's Racial & Economic Justice Program, said in a separate statement shared with Newsweek.

"We also know that there were many other families in the hotel that were moved in the cover of a hurricane. We'll continue our efforts to make sure that they are not disappeared and that we continue to expose black sites like this whether they be in a Hilton or another hotel or another government prison," Olivares said.

However, Olivares said it "isn't enough" for TCRP and other rights organizations to be pressuring the Trump administration to stop deporting children and families out of the country amid the pandemic. "Congress must investigate," the legal director said.

Newsweek has contacted DHS and HHS for comment.

Hampton Inn
A sign marks the location of a Hampton Inn & Suites on September 12, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Hampton Inn & Suites McAllen has said it wasn't aware of the nature of the government's booking that saw immigrant children held at its hotel. Scott Olson/Getty