WASHINGTON – To Whom It May Concern:
We’ve all seen the horrors of this administration’s immigration policies. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ripped children away from their families and put them in cages. It failed to release children and families in detention to prevent the spread of the coronavirus with deadly consequences. And it is using a shadow system to avoid the laws that allow all people to seek asylum at our border. It hid families and children in hotels before “expelling” them from the country before the families could ask a judge for protection. Children not yet old enough for school, along with teenage girls and boys, have been trapped in hotels, unable to reunify with family or talk to lawyers.
Recent reports show that hotels have been working with ICE to detain children and families, preventing them from seeking legal help. ICE’s detention of children and families in hotels means that critical protections for children are removed. ICE has detained children in hotels using law enforcement agents and private contractors, some without the proper licenses to work with and care for children. Federal law requires unaccompanied children — and all children — to be placed in facilities that are monitored by state agencies with expertise in child protection. Hotels aren’t subject to regulations and protections that government-sanctioned facilities have, leaving the door wide open for abuse and neglect. Additionally, the practice is built on secrecy, leaving legal advocates and families in the dark about their loved ones’ whereabouts and safety.
After widespread backlash following recent reports, some hotels have denounced the use of their properties to detain children — but we have no reason to believe them. In 2019, some hotels came out against using their facilities by ICE, but months later, reports revealed that they were continuing to assist to the agency in detaining children. Words are cheap. Action is required.
We’re calling on hotels to:
- End the silence and answer for their practices.
- Publicly refuse to assist ICE in detaining children and families.
- Release a plan to show they are putting words into action and assure customers that this practice will end for good.
Until hotels complete these steps, Americans should be wary of giving business to companies that are complicit in the cruel and inhumane family separation practices enforced by the Trump administration.
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas
Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)
Center for Gender and Refugee Studies
Cleveland Jobs With Justice
Colorado Jobs With Justice
Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project
Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network
Immigrant Families Together
InterReligious Task Force On Central America and Colombia
National Jobs With Justice
National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)
Union for Reform Judaism
Workers Center of Central NY
Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights