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US to place migrant families in hotels far from detention centers | Voice of America




WASHINGTON – Some families of migrants arriving in the United States will be accommodated in hotels under a new program run by nonprofits, according to two people familiar with the plans. It would be a move away from the for-profit detention centers that Democrats and health experts have criticized.

Endeavors, a San Antonio-based organization, will oversee what it calls “family hospitality sites” at hotels in Texas and Arizona, the two sources said. The organization, in partnership with other nonprofits, will initially provide up to 1,400 beds in seven branded hotels for families deemed vulnerable when taken at the border.

The opening of the reception centers would mark a significant shift in the administration of President Joe Biden, a Democrat, away from holding migrant families in for-profit facilities.

Contracts not renewed

In January, Biden issued an order directing the Justice Department not to renew its contracts with private criminal detention centers. However, the order did not apply to immigration prisons operated by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

About 1,200 migrants were held in two family detention centers in Texas on Wednesday, according to an ICE spokeswoman. A third center in Pennsylvania is no longer used to house families.

The spokesperson did not comment on the plan to house families in hotels.

The number of migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border has increased in recent weeks, as Biden rolled back some of the sweeping policies of former Republican President Donald Trump.

FILE – Migrants line up for a free meal at a makeshift migrant camp at the border entry point to the United States on March 17, 2021, in Tijuana, Mexico.

Biden, who took office on Jan.20, has faced criticism from Republicans for overturning those policies. At the same time, some Democrats have opposed the Biden administrations’ reopening of a Trump-era emergency shelter for children.

The hotel sites, which are slated to open in April, will offer COVID-19 testing, medical care, food services, social workers and case managers to help with travel and subsequent destinations, according to the two sources, who requested anonymity to discuss the matter. Staff will be trained to work with children.

It remained unclear whether migrants would be required to wear anklets or be subjected to any other form of surveillance, people said.

Families will arrive at border patrol posts and then be dispatched to hotel sites to continue immigration formalities, the two sources said. They could leave the reception centers as soon as six hours after their arrival if the paperwork is completed, they test negative for COVID-19 and transport has been arranged.


Biden officials have said migrant families will be deported to Mexico or their home country under a Trump-era health order known as Title 42. But more than half of the 19,000 members family captured at the border in February have not been deported, and many have been released back to the United States.

The accommodation of some migrants in hotels was reported by Axios earlier on Saturday.

Endeavors will also operate a new 2,000-bed shelter for unaccompanied children in Texas, the sources said.

The Biden administration has struggled to accommodate a growing number of unaccompanied minors arriving at the US-Mexico border. More than 500 children had been living in crowded border crossings for more than 10 days on Thursday.

New facilities for families and children are expected to gradually increase bed capacity, said people familiar with the effort.

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