In the first eight months of 2017, at least 20 undocumented immigrants were arrested at two Motel 6 locations in Arizona after employees shared information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Daily tips from hotel employees, uncovered by the Phoenix New Times, had ICE agents showing up at two hotels, both located in largely Latino parts of the Arizona capital, about once every two weeks.
Neither hotel management nor corporate PR would talk to the New Times about the arrests, but employees confirmed that sharing information with ICE is part of the daily routine.
“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.”
A spokesperson for the Phoenix division of ICE would not confirm this, but a local police department spokesperson did tell the paper, “On occasion and through informal contacts, various hotels and motels have shared their guest lists with officers.”
If Motel 6 is in fact working with ICE, it wouldn’t be the first time the chain has cozied up to law enforcement. In 2015, a Motel 6 in Warwick, Rhode Island, began sending its daily guest list to the local police department, which would then check for outstanding warrants.
Though police need a warrant to compel hotels to turn over guest information, there’s nothing stopping hotels from volunteering it. Hotels also have no legal obligation to inform guests that their names will be sent to the authorities, despite the obvious invasion of privacy. The other big problem here is that by allowing police to run every guest through a database, the hotel is also allowing the police to go on fishing expeditions in their search for otherwise law-abiding undocumented people.
People like Jose Granados Sanchez, who was arrested at one of the Phoenix Motel 6 locations in question last month after police knocked on his door and asked for documentation. “I was shocked when they told me that,” Sanchez’s wife, Cintia de Leon, told the New Times. “I couldn’t believe it, and until this day, I still cannot believe it.”