Two Phoenix, Arizona Motel 6 locations have allegedly called federal immigration officials on undocumented guests who stayed at the motels.
A review of court records 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, reported Phoenix New Times.
In June, 33-year-old landscaper Manuel Rodriguez-Juarez rented a room at one of the Motel 6 locations. When the front-desk clerk asked for ID, Rodriguez-Juarez showed the only thing he had—a Mexican voter-ID card.
About 6 hours later, 3 ICE agents came to the hotel room and took him into custody after authorities say he admitted that he was not authorized to be in the United States. He is now being held at an immigration detention center in Florence, Arizona while his lawyer tries to get him asylum.
According to the New Times, the statement of probable cause in Rodriguez-Juarez’s case indicates that ICE officers were “following a lead” when they arrested him. Department of Homeland Security records say that ICE’s Phoenix Mobile Criminal Alien Team Unit received information that gave the number of the exact room number in which Rodriguez-Juarez was staying.
“I’m thinking to myself, ‘How would they know that?’” Rocha told the New Times. “The client said he gave them a Mexican ID card—but there’s people who visit the U.S. all the time who have Mexican IDs. How does that establish that you’re here without authorization?”
“I’m assuming it was a Motel 6 person—I don’t know who else would have told them—thinking, ‘Hey, this guy doesn’t speak English, he has a Mexican ID card, I’m going to call ICE,’” Rocha added.
While Motel 6 corporate has not responded to inquiries about the arrests, employees at both locations told the New Times off the record that it is standard practice to send guest information to ICE.
“We send a report every morning to ICE—all the names of everybody that comes in,” one front-desk clerk said. “Every morning at about 5 o’clock, we do the audit and we push a button and it sends it to ICE.”
Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe, a spokesperson for ICE’s Phoenix division, refused to say who is turning in people suspected of being undocumented.
“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,” O’Keefe said. “If hypothetically we were somewhere—if we did administratively arrest some folks—that happens all the time. We conduct targeted enforcement operations every day.”
Denise Aguilar, another Arizona lawyer, told the New Times that she has a client being held in ICE custody alongside several other people who were also detained at the same Motel 6.
Aguilar told the New Times, “They have heard (no telling how valid the info is) that ICE is paying $200 per person for the front-desk clerk to report.
Both of the Motel 6 locations are corporate-owned, so this isn’t the case of a local franchise owner taking people’s money and then calling the authorities. And as the New Times notes, the company has been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union for sharing guest lists with local police.
A 2015 Supreme Court decision made it so a city cannot compel a hotel to turn over guest information without a warrant, so that means if front-desk staff are doing so in these cases, they are doing it voluntarily or under the orders of their corporate office.
Motel 6 claims no knowledge of the program and “if” it happened, they blame it on the local people.
Statement Regarding Recent Media Reports on Phoenix-area Location pic.twitter.com/MPxaspNA6b
— Motel 6 (@motel6) September 14, 2017
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)