Phoenix hotel won’t work with ICE contractor that detained migrant children there

Screenshot via Google Maps

A Phoenix-area hotel where migrant minors in government custody were detained said on Tuesday the group of minors is no longer staying there and that it “won’t accept similar business moving forward.” 

In a statement, Remington Hotels, a hotel management company that includes the Hampton Inn Phoenix-Airport North, said the hotel had an agreement with a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement contractor.

“The property was not aware that the room block, booked by the private contractor, would be used to house migrants in U.S. custody,” the statement said. “The property has cancelled all future business with this private contractor. This is not business that The Hampton Inn Phoenix-Airport North supports, or wishes to be associated with, and the hotel has confirmed that they will not accept similar business moving forward.”

A spokeswoman with Remington Hotels didn’t respond to a question on what the hotel understood was the purpose of the room reservations.  

According to an Associated Press report based on records, 169 migrant children and teens were detained at Hampton Inns in McAllen, El Paso and Phoenix, in April and June. (May records were not available.)

An ICE private transportation contractor that in June 2018 held migrant minors in vacant office buildings in central Phoenix, sometimes overnight, is in charge of transporting the minors to the Phoenix hotel, according to the AP. 

Emergency coronavirus measures allow the Border Patrol to remove people from the country with little processing.

Before March, migrant minors who arrived at the country alone to seek protections or who were separated from their parents or relatives at the border were mostly placed in privately run shelters overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement.

As of July 9, there were approximately 850 migrant children and teens in HHS care, according to the agency. In September 2019, there were about 5,000 migrant minors in HHS shelters. 

According to HHS, 86 migrant minors in the agency’s custody have tested positive for COVID-19, two of them in Arizona, as of July 16.

Two years ago, when an investigation by Reveal found that an ICE contractor was detaining children in space they leased in a Phoenix office building, then-Councilwoman Kate Gallego — who is now the city’s mayor — chastised ICE for mistreating migrant children and “stashing them inside inadequate facilities not designed for the appropriate care of children.” 

In a Tuesday statement, Gallego said she is disappointed the city is facing “a similar issue yet again.” She also thanked Remington Hotels for ending business agreements with the ICE contractor.  

“This is a strong statement, but only a small victory. I encourage other hotels to follow their lead,” Gallego said. “Regardless of their immigration status, individuals who are being detained by the government, many of them children, are entitled to a safe environment with trained professionals, until they can receive their due process.”

On July 24, Gallego sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security requesting details on its role in detaining migrant children outside of government shelters, and called for probes at the city and state level on potential violations.

Laura Gómez
Reporter Laura Gómez Rodriguez covers state politics and immigration for the Arizona Mirror. She worked for The Arizona Republic and La Voz Arizona for four years, covering city government, economic development, immigration, politics and trade. In 2017, Laura traveled the length of the U.S.-Mexico border for “The Wall,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning project produced by The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network. She was named Best Investigative Reporter by Phoenix Magazine in its 2018 newspaper category and has been honored by the Arizona Press Club for Spanish-language news and feature reporting. She is a native of Bogotá, Colombia and lived in Puerto Rico and Boston before moving to Phoenix in 2014. Catch her researching travel deals, feasting on mariscos or playing soccer.