Migrant minors are being detained in a Hampton Inn & Suites hotel in Phoenix, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
According to records obtained by the AP, 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.)
The hotels have been used nearly 200 times, while more than 10,000 beds for children sit empty at government shelters.
Federal anti-trafficking laws and a two-decade-old court settlement that governs the treatment of migrant children require that most kids be sent to the shelters for eventual placement with family sponsors. But President Donald Trump’s administration is now immediately expelling people seeking asylum in the U.S., relying on a public health declaration to set aside those rules.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 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-Councilman 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.”
Gallego’s office didn’t immediately return a request for comment on the migrant children detained at hotels.