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Central American families board a U.S. Customs and Border Protection bus. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

At the last minute, four hotels in Texas and Arizona backed out of agreements to house around 600 migrant family members amid growing border-crossing numbers and swirling political debates over immigration, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The nonprofit Endeavors has already secured new hotels to fulfill its $87 million contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Still, the last-minute changes underscore the logistical and political hurdles to finding space for the increasing numbers of migrant families and children illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • Three hotels under the Endeavors contract started housing migrant families earlier this month. The accommodations are expected to hold roughly 600 migrants altogether.
  • A Woodspring Suites, a Hampton Inn by Hilton, a Microtel by Wyndham and a Best Western were slated to open up more space for migrant families starting April 30, but backed out and now the deadline has been pushed back, according to sources familiar with the situation.
  • Endeavors told Axios that it has been able to secure three alternative hotel sites, but did not provide further details.

The big picture: In addition to the $87 million contract with ICE, Endeavors also signed a contract with a Department of Health and Human Services agency to help house unaccompanied minors, which is worth up to $530 million, as Axios first reported.

  • The Texas nonprofit hired a Biden transition official shortly before the non-bid contracts were signed.

What they're saying: “The families that come into ICE custody will be housed in a manner consistent with legal requirements for the safety and well-being of children and their parents or guardians," an ICE spokesperson said in a statement when asked for comment.

  • The spokesperson added that families are generally in custody less than 72 hours for processing and settling on conditions for their release.
  • An Endeavors spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

This isn't the first time hotels have been caught in a political firestorm for holding migrants.

  • Just last year, the Trump administration used several hotels owned by Hilton, Marriott and Choice Hotels International for hundreds of unaccompanied minors before they were expelled back to their home countries under a coronavirus-related public health order, as the AP then reported.
  • Hilton released a statement following early reports in 2020 saying they "expect all Hilton properties to reject business" that would use a hotel for detention.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include information provided by Endeavors.

Go deeper

Biden administration reinstates fast-track deportation flights

Guatemalan immigrant Yamari Yaneli, 1, waits with her family for U.S. Border Patrol agents to transport them to a processing center. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The Biden administration on Friday resumed fast-track deportation flights to Central America, the Department of Homeland Security announced.

The big picture: Officials said Monday that they were planning to resume "expedited removal flights" following an increase in the number of migrants crossing into the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, the Washington Post reports.

Updated Jul 30, 2021 - Politics & Policy

DOJ sues Texas over restrictions on undocumented migrant travel

Photo: Samuel Corum-Pool via Getty Images

The Justice Department sued Texas on Friday over Gov. Greg Abbott's (R) executive order restricting transportation of undocumented migrants.

Driving the news: The DOJ is asking a federal judge to block the order immediately. It's the latest clash between Texas and President Biden's Justice Department.

Updated 15 mins ago - Science

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — considered the world's largest by volume. Park officials wrapped the redwoods in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. And officials said early Sunday protection efforts appeared to be working.