The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have said migrant children are no longer being held at a Texas hotel after civil rights groups sued the Trump administration on Friday over the detention. The rights groups including the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) said minor children were detained in Hampton Inn and Suites of McAllen in Texas.
The charge said the US administration was allegedly detaining many children in hotels until they are deported back to their families or countries. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is said to have hired a private security firm on a contract basis to book rooms in Hampton Inn hotels, it was reported.
When lawyers from TCRP sought access to these children in the hotel, they were restricted from doing so by contract officers hired by ICE, the group said.
In a video that surfaced on Twitter on July 24, a man who was identified by the TCRP as its attorney is seen in a verbal clash with three men. The group of three men is seen pushing the attorney who was tagged in the tweet by name @danimarr94. TCRP officials were swift to share the video that further grabbed the attention of several netizens and civil rights groups.
Children as young as one-year-old are said to be detained in Hampton hotels. Roberto Lopez of TCRP recalled: "When I visited the Hampton hotel in Texas last week, I saw men dressed in plainclothes moving to the fourth and fifth floors of the hotel. I saw a toddler at the gate of this hotel, while an adult was playing with the little one. However when I sought access to the children, I was denied permission."
Meanwhile, reacting to allegations raised by the civil rights personnel on Friday, the ICE claimed that Lopez and the attorney were "trying to forcefully gain access to the area inside the hotel". The Immigration officials further called the three men forcing TCRP's attorney away, as contract officers who were trying to restrict entry into the hotel where children are detained.
Later when the Hampton authorities were contacted, they claimed that all the reservations have been terminated, while the ICE confirmed that the children have been taken away from these hotels. The hotel and the ICE refused to say where the kids have been taken. But, an investigation by civil rights groups revealed that these hotels have been used more 150 times to detain the children who seek refuge in the US, reported the AP.
Now, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has stepped forward with the TCRP seeking justice for the children detained in these Hampton hotels. ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt, who filed a suit against the US administration on behalf of TCRP said: "The government refuses to provide any information on these children while lawyers are not given access to them. The Trump administration intends to expel these kids back in danger without even considering their pleas," the lawyer asserts.
In the meantime, Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., which manages portfolios of hotels and resorts in the US, has issued a statement against the ICE and Hampton hotels, over its involvement in the detention of children. Hilton's statement reads: "Hilton has confirmed reports that independently owned and managed Hampton Inn and Suites in McAllen, TX had accepted reservations from a private contractor working on behalf of the ICE. We understand that these reservations were to house migrant minors while they were being transported between locations. We are neither associated with any such activities, nor we support it."