When you check into a hotel and provide a photo ID, your expectation is that the hotel will be holding this info for its records in case you mess up the room or try to skip out on your bill. What you don’t expect is that the hotel management is taking its daily guest logs and turning them over to federal immigration officials.
Earlier this week, an article in the Phoenix New Times pointed to a recent pattern of frequent arrests by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers at two Motel 6 locations in the Phoenix area.
Records showed that ICE was showing up at these two Motel 6 addresses at a rate of about once every two weeks, while New Times reporters couldn’t find any evidence of ICE making arrests at any other area hotels during the same time period.
Warrants granted for these arrests only stated that the officers were “following a lead,” though these were leads with incredibly specific information about the allegedly illegal aliens staying at the hotel. It appeared to those concerned that someone at the hotels was the source of the information being provided to ICE.
In fact, Motel 6 staff confirmed to the New Times that they weren’t just calling ICE when they suspected that a guest was in the country illegally. They were giving daily reports of all guests to the officers.
“We send a report every morning to ICE — all the names of everybody that comes in,” a front-desk clerk admitted to the New Times. “Every morning at about 5 o’clock, we do the audit and we push a button and it sends it to ICE.”
Unlike some Motel 6 locations that are owned by franchisees, the two Phoenix hotels involved in this story are corporate-owned, but in a statement released after the story broke, the company still contends that the decision to voluntarily turn over all guest records to ICE was made at the local level and without knowledge of Motel 6 HQ.
“When we became aware of it, it was discontinued,” says the hotel chain, which is promising to make sure that all 1,400 of its locations now understand that “they are prohibited from voluntarily providing daily guest lists to ICE.”