Watchdog’s “No ICE Hotels” Campaign Demands Hotels Cut Ties with ICE; Denounce Practice of Housing Immigrant Children and Parents
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following months of disturbing news surrounding the participation of private hotels in Immigration Customs and Enforcement’s (ICE) practice of detaining immigrant children and families, nonpartisan government watchdog Accountable.US today launched “No ICE Hotels” — a campaign calling on hotels to publicly refuse to assist ICE in their harmful detention practices and to release a plan that ensures that no hotels under their brand comply with ICE to hold families again.
Recent reports show ICE has used a shadow system to detain immigrant children and families in hotels, often leaving children in the hands of unlicensed workers and opening the door to potential abuse and neglect since hotels are not subject to the same policies meant to protect children as federal facilities are — all as COVID-19 continues to threaten people’s health nationwide. Additionally, since the practice is built on secrecy, legal advocates and families are often left in the dark about their loved ones’ whereabouts and safety.
Recently, an appeals court upheld a ban on ICE detaining immigrant children in hotels — but the government is still able to use hotels for short term stays and ICE may still appeal the decision. Pressure from the private sector is the only way to ensure this practice ends for good.
The No ICE Hotels campaign, explained in greater detail on ICEHotels.org, aims to hold hotels accountable for participating in the unethical practice of detaining immigrant children, encouraging them to explicitly answer for their participation in helping ICE detain children and families, to publicly refuse to assist ICE in the future, and to release a plan to show they are putting words into action and assure customers that this practice will end for good. Just last year, hotels came out against cooperating with ICE, but reports revealed that they continued to do so even after publicly denouncing the practice. Hotels must release a plan to back up their words with action.
“The Trump administration may have stopped its cruel practice of putting immigrant children in cages, but it is still failing to provide them with even the baseline protections they should be afforded in federal facilities. Dozens of hotels have been complicit in the federal government’s failure to provide care for these children, opening the door to abuse and neglect and leaving legal advocates and families in the dark,” said Lizzy Price, spokesperson for Accountable.US.
“By detaining immigrant children and their families in private hotels, ICE is actively endangering their lives. Hotel CEOs must publicly denounce this shadow system, immediately promise to end their complicit participation in ICE’s harmful practices, and put action behind their words.”
The campaign includes a letter from Accountable.US and several immigrant rights groups, to hotel CEOs, calling for them to act. The campaign will also include digital ads targeting potential hotel customers. The campaign targets hotel chain giants including Hilton (Hampton Inn); Best Western; Choice Hotels (Comfort Suites, Quality Suites, Econo Lodge), among the more than two dozen hotels that have participated in harmful collaborations with ICE this year.
The push to hold hotels accountable follows an extensive report by Accountable.US outlining the most serious failures of ICE and its private detention center operators to protect the individuals in its care during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.