Marriott, Choice hotels say they would not serve as detention centers after ICE raids

Hotel chains are facing pressure from activists to cut off options for ICE.

July 12, 2019, 7:52 PM

As U.S. cities brace for President Donald Trump's promised immigration raids this weekend, two popular hotel chains said they would not serve as detention centers for immigrants in the event of a housing shortage.

Trump on Friday confirmed plans for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in major U.S. cities this weekend, marking the second time in as many months that he has called for the mass roundup of undocumented immigrants.

Trump tweeted last month that "millions" of undocumented immigrants would be deported before postponing the raids.

Beginning Sunday, federal immigration officers were expected to sweep across as many as nine cities (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Denver, Miami, New York, Baltimore, Chicago and Atlanta) to arrest undocumented immigrants as outlined by President Trump. The raids could impact as many as 2,000 people although Trump has not indicated the size and scope. New Orleans, which had been targeted originally, is exempt because of the storm.

Administration officials have internally discussed the possibility that they may need hotel rooms because of limited space in ICE detention centers, sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity told ABC News.

Concerns over that possibility have prompted activists to start online petitions to pressure hotel chains to refuse to house undocumented immigrants for the government.

A spokesperson for ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the hotel chains' statements regarding cooperation with ICE in housing migrants rounded up in the raids.

Officials with Marriott, the world's largest hotel chain -- which operates 30 different hotel brands including Sheraton, Courtyard, Ritz Carlton, W and Westin -- said they would not allow ICE to use the company's properties as detention centers.

“Marriott International has had no indication that any of our hotels have been contacted by the U.S. government to be used to detain individuals," a spokesperson for Marriott told ABC News in a statement.

"Our hotels are not configured to be detention facilities, but to be open to guests and community members as well. While we have no particular insights into whether the U.S. government is considering the use of hotels to aid in the situation at the border, Marriott has made the decision to decline any requests to use our hotels as detention facilities.”

The Marriott hotel in downtown Orlando, Florida, July 10, 2019.
Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Another large global chain, Choice Hotels — which owns Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, Clarion, Ascend, Cambria and EconoLodge — sent a similar statement to ABC News.

“We are not aware that any of our franchised hotels, all of which are independently owned and operated, are being asked to serve as detention facilities," a spokesman for Choice Hotels told ABC News. "We do not believe hotels should be used in this way and will decline any requests to do so. We ask that our franchised hotels only be used for their intended purpose, which is to provide travelers with a welcoming hotel room.”

Hilton, Wyndham Hotels and Best Western — who are also under pressure from activists to deny facilities to ICE — did not immediately respond to an ABC News request for comment on Friday.

"It's hard to underestimate the extent to which this type of operation stretches ICE’s logistics," Brandon Wu, an organizer with immigrant rights' group Sanctuary DMV, told ABC News.

"If they’re really talking about detaining tens of thousands of immigrants in the space of a few days, that is just a massive influx of people that could include renting vans from Enterprise and using hotels as overflow for detention centers."

Enterprise, which is the target of online petitions asking them not to rent vehicles to ICE, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News on Friday.

ABC News’ Stephanie Ebbs and Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.