At least two Motel 6 locations in Phoenix, Arizona, appear to be regularly sending guest lists to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, resulting in at least 20 arrests of undocumented immigrants at the hotel chain between February and August of this year, the Phoenix New Times reports.
The arrests stem from what ICE officers call "knock and talks," meaning officers show up at a hotel door without a warrant, ostensibly following a "lead," and ask permission to enter. "It's not some big conspiracy," ICE spokesperson Yasmeen Pitts O'Keefe told the New Times. "If they're given consent, then they can come in. If they're not, then they can come back with a search warrant."
But employees at Motel 6s offered a different version of events:
Unofficially … employees at both locations said it was standard practice to share guest information with ICE.
"We send a report every morning to ICE — all the names of everybody that comes in," one front-desk clerk explained. "Every morning at about 5 o'clock, we do the audit and we push a button and it sends it to ICE." [Phoenix New Times]
"I don't know how it works, but if you check in and you have a warrant, you're going to get picked up," another Motel 6 employee told New Times. Immigration attorney Denise Aguilar wrote that some of her clients "have heard (no telling how valid the info is) that ICE is paying $200 per person for the front-desk clerk to report."
O'Keefe said she couldn't divulge how the immigrants were being discovered at the hotels. "I wouldn't be able to confirm how we are getting our information," she said. "Those are investigative techniques that we wouldn't be able to talk about." Read the full report here.
Update Sept. 14: Motel 6 issued a corporate statement following the Phoenix New Times report, writing: "[T]his was implemented at the local level without the knowledge of senior management. When we became aware of it last week, it was discontinued. We are currently investigating and will provide more information shortly."