Marriott, like some other hotel chains, refused to serve as detention centers to temporarily house people picked up in Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids.
That’s reasonable business to turn down. Some US airlines asked the government not to use their planes to deport children and separate families. Aside from the public relations aspect, this was a difficult issue for airline employees to grapple with being in the middle of.
At the same time Marriott isn’t a purist on this issue, voicing no public concerns when the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh was used as a detention facility by the government of Saudi Arabia. In fact it was used for torture and even reportedly murder.
Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, Credit: Ritz-Carlton
Now the chain is coming under criticism because the Marriott Marquis Chicago is hosting the Customs and Border Protection annual trade symposium and will feature the acting Secretary of Homeland Security and acting Customs and Border Protection commisioner.
ICE & CBP can't round up our neighbors, steal kids from their parents, and run concentration camps on their own. There is a whole network of companies who are collaborating with them, and we can’t allow it to continue. @Marriott, what’s wrong with you?https://t.co/zrshTYNdPC?
— ✡️ Never Again Action ✡️ (@NeverAgainActn) July 19, 2019
Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson has been clear that the chain shouldn’t be in the business of vetting the messages of each group that books a meeting.
Do we really want, as a society, for companies like Marriott and the peers in our industry and others to sit and make judgments or points of view on people sitting in our meeting rooms? I shudder to think that we really expect that my role or Marriott’s role is to say your views are not acceptable in our hotels and that another person’s views are
Marriott Marquis Chicago, credit: Marriott
This isn’t an issue of free speech rights per se, the government isn’t dictating who can and cannot speak or meet at a Marriott. But it is a question of an open society.
Hyatt, on the other hand, can be bullied into determining who shouldn’t and shouldn’t be permitted to host a meeting. And Motel 6 goes a step further still, Motel 6s in Phoenix are known for ratting out guests to ICE.
Interestingly the same people who call for Marriott to make a judgment about whom they’ll do business with on the basis of their values likely don’t support bakeries choosing to provide wedding cakes only to heterosexual couples.