Two Motel 6 locations in the Phoenix area are reportedly sending guest lists to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials on a daily basis. According to a report by the Phoenix New Times, this has resulted in at least 20 arrests at the two locations between February and August of this year.
Though neither management at the locations nor Motel 6’s corporate office responded to questions about this practice, at least one employee was fairly forthcoming. “We send a report every morning to ICE — all the names of everybody that comes in,” a front-desk clerk told the paper. “Every morning at about 5 o’clock, we do the audit and we push a button and it sends it to ICE.”
ICE was mum about the “investigative techniques” it uses, but Phoenix Police department spokesperson Jonathan Howard confirmed that “[o]n occasion and through informal contacts, various hotels and motels have shared their guest lists with officers.”
Local immigration attorneys Ray Ybarra Maldonado and Robert McWhirter confirmed that they had clients who’d been arrested at one of the Motel 6 locations. In one case, for example, a statement of probable cause indicated that ICE’s Mobile Criminal Alien Unit was “following a lead” when they “encountered” one of Maldonado’s clients, but the fact that they had his exact room number when he was only staying there one night “was too much of a coincidence.” Maldonado believes ICE compares the guest lists with warrant lists to find individuals who are undocumented.
According to the New Times’ investigation, about a third of the cases indicated that ICE encountered a suspect during a “knock and talk,” wherein officers show up without a warrant and ask permission to enter the room.
This isn’t the first time Motel 6 has been scrutinized for sharing guest information with police. In 2015, the Providence Journal reported on a Motel 6 in Warwick, Rhode Island that was similarly providing police with a daily guest list. Like the current situation at the Phoenix location, guests were not notified their information would be shared.
At the time, Victor Glover, vice president of safety and security for G6 Hospitality (the corporation that owns and operates the Motel 6 chain), said that informing hotel guests that their information would transmitted to police “is not a normal process of our check-in.” Glover explained that Motel 6 generally shares guest lists with police when asked to do so.
Hotels, however, are not legally required to provide police with guest information, which can often include identification records (like a driver’s license), credit cards, and car make and license plate. A few years ago, a group of hotel owners in Los Angeles challenged a city law requiring them to let police see this documentation, and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed that they can’t legally be forced to share that information. But hotels are still able to share it if they so desire.
The New Times concluded that, for its part, Motel 6 appears “extremely enthusiastic about cooperating with law enforcement.”
Both Phoenix locations are corporate owned (i.e. not operated as franchises) and G6 Hospitality refused to respond to questions “over a period of several weeks.” ThinkProgress similarly reached out to G6 Hospitality for comment but did not receive an immediate response.
UPDATE (10:32 PM): Motel 6 confirms that guest lists were shared with ICE and says the practice has now been discontinued.
Statement Regarding Recent Media Reports on Phoenix-area Location pic.twitter.com/MPxaspNA6b
— Motel 6 (@motel6) September 14, 2017