When the announcement was made that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will push through with immigrant deportation actions on July 13, use of hotels was made mention as potential temporary detainment facilities for those who will be arrested.
In response, the major hotels made it clear that they have no intention of allowing their respective establishments to be used as detention facilities, even if temporarily.
Best Western,Choice, IHG , Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, MGM Resorts and Wyndham Hotels, had all released statements signifying their refusal to accept business from the government in relation to the ICE immigrant deportation arrests.
Although hotels usually cooperate with government agencies, they participated only for purposes of holding conferences, in hosting defence contractors, or in providing shelter for displaced flood victims.
Marriott International’s statement included intention to decline future requests from ICE agents to use its hotels as detention facilities, as well as the reason for their decision, which read
“Marriott hotels are not configured to be detention facilities; they are open to guests and community members as well,”
Reports say that the major hotels were pressured by advocacy groups and workers unions in arriving at the said decision. It is also worth mentioning that even as early as 2016, the CEO of Marriott Hotels had expressed a similar stance in a letter to then incoming president, Donald Trump.
Through an open letter, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson beseeched the newly elected president not to deport illegal immigrants. CEO Sorenson suggested that instead of deporting the more than 11 million illegal immigrants, it would be better if appropriate steps were taken to allow them to make contributions to communities and to help make America stronger by making them pay taxes. Additionally, he also wrote
”It is heartless as well as impractical to think that we will evict all these people. Let us find a way to let them live their lives productively,”
Choice Hotels, the owner of the Quality Suites brand had previously signed a contract with the Department of Homeland Security in 2016 in connection with ICE proceedings. The hotel made it clear that it does not plan to renew the contract.
Still, a representative of Choice Hotels issued a subsequent clarification of their position as a hotel franchisor. All hotels in their system are owned and operated independently, to which owners of each property make independent decisions about their respective operations as long as they are within the boundaries of applicable laws.
Apparently, one of the franchised Quality Suites had recently housed more than three migrants. In a single occasion in the fall of 2017, it had as many as 120 migrant detainees.
However, the hotel’s involvement drew negative reactions from Quality Suites customers who were staying at the hotel at the same time the immigrants were detained. Some complained, while some wrote negative reviews in the Quality Suites website; making mention of the noise coming from the group of detainees who were placed in the same floor just doors away from the guest rooms.
Pennsylvania State University’s Hospitality Management professor Daniel Mount explains that hotel companies also need to reassure customers of safety while in their properties. That it is not being overrun by armed guards keeping watch over migrants.