(CNN)Some of the country's largest hotel companies continued to house immigrant detainees even after they publicly condemned the federal government's use of their rooms for this purpose, an attorney who receives government detention data told CNN.
Major hotels break promises on allowing feds to detain immigrants in their rooms
At least seven companies issued statements in July opposing the detention of immigrants in their hotels following protests from customers and activists.
"We do not believe hotels should be used in this way and will decline any requests to do so," Choice Hotels, for example, said in its statement at the time.
Nonetheless, the government continued to place detainees in Choice hotels and in locations belonging to at least two other national hotel groups that had policies opposing the practice, according to data from immigration attorney Carlos Holguín, who receives monthly Department of Homeland Security reports on the placements of detained kids.
Holguín receives this information as one of the attorneys tasked with monitoring the government's adherence to the Flores agreement, a high-profile court settlement which dictates how immigrant children should be treated while detained. Two additional sources, who were familiar with the cases but requested anonymity, confirmed the details about these hotel stays to CNN as well.
At least 17 migrant youths were temporarily held by the federal government in hotels in August and September, according to ICE data provided to Holguín. The specific locations of all of the hotels were not available, and he did not have knowledge of whether additional youth were held recently or how many adults may also have been placed at hotels.
Federal data previously released to advocacy organizations through a public records request showed that ICE has used hotels in the past as well. Those used between 2015 and 2018 included a couple locations that held hundreds of immigrants -- and one that held thousands.
Without confirming CNN's inquiries about the recent use of hotels, ICE said that it "has long utilized hotels to temporarily house illegal aliens while pending release or transfer to another facility," and that "the typical stay is an overnight or two."
The agency said hotels may be used in "emergent instances" to hold detained immigrants, including migrant children who are on their own and on the way to licensed facilities or for family units.
"Hotels are used to temporarily house vulnerable populations," the agency said in a statement. "Using hotels for short term detention of family units allows ICE to keep families together."
It did not provide information about what kind of security measures are typically taken when detained immigrants are placed in hotels.
Choice Hotels said that without the specific locations of the recent stays, it could not confirm or deny what sources told CNN -- that five immigrant youths were held in its hotels in August and September.
Three were held at a Comfort Suites in August, the sources said, while one stayed at Sleep Inn & Suites in August, and another stayed there in September. Before these stays, in July, Choice had said publicly that it was not aware of any of its hotels, which are independently owned and operated, "being asked to serve as detention facilities." The company told CNN it communicated its position to franchisees earlier this year and that each property manages its own reservations and contracts.
"We are working to take additional proactive measures to ensure Choice branded hotels are not being used as detention centers by examining the language in our brand Rules and Regulations and considering changes to establish greater clarity moving forward," Choice said.
The Best Western Plus Dragon Gate Inn in Los Angeles' Chinatown also reportedly held immigrant youth -- with two children staying there in August, and two in September.
When CNN called and asked to speak with the manager of this location, an employee said "we don't discuss that," and hung up. ICE's public data shows that Dragon Gate Inn has been used to house immigrant detainees in the past as well, dating back more than a decade.
The Best Western chain stated in July that it was unaware of any of its locati