Motel 6 announced it will stop sending customer lists to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Wednesday after its corporate office was made aware of the practice at some locations.
The company’s announcement came just hours after the Phoenix New Times reported that at least two Arizona Motel 6 locations were sending guest lists to ICE agents every morning, prompting ICE sting operations at the businesses.
At least 20 undocumented immigrants have been arrested under this practice, the New Times reported.
“This was implemented at the local level without the knowledge of senior management,” Motel 6 said in a statement. “When we became aware of it last week, it was discontinued.”
After the Phoenix New Times investigated court records and found that between February and August of this year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents made 20 arrests at the same two Motel 6 locations in Phoenix, they called out the motel chain.
Located in predominantly Latino neighborhoods, the two motels are suspected of having called federal immigration officials about undocumented guests who checked in for short stays.
The newspaper reported that the two franchise locations of the motel were sending their guest lists to ICE agents “every morning,” and possibly receiving $200 per undocumented immigrant caught in the sting.
“We send a report every morning to ICE — all the names of everybody that comes in,” one front-desk clerk told the Times. “Every morning at about 5 o’clock, we do the audit, and we push a button and it sends it to ICE.”
Immigration attorney Denise Aguilar wrote in an email to the newspaper that some of her clients “have heard (no telling how valid the info is) that ICE [was] paying $200 per person for the front-desk clerk to report.”
According to the news outlet, ICE agents performed “knock and talks” at the locations after receiving the guest lists, which means officers showed up at the hotel without a warrant and knocked on doors, asking permission to enter. If they were refused, they’d come back with a warrant.
“It’s not some big conspiracy,” ICE spokesperson Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe told the Phoenix 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.”
There were at least 20 ICE arrests at the two Motel 6 locations between February and August, but Pitts O’Keefe would not disclose from whom ICE got its leads on where undocumented immigrants are staying.
“I wouldn’t be able to confirm how we are getting our information. Those are investigative techniques that we wouldn’t be able to talk about,” she told the New Times. “If, hypothetically, we were somewhere … if we did administratively arrest some folks — that happens all the time. We conduct targeted enforcement operations every day.”
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