Motel 6 is telling all its locations that employees cannot voluntarily provide daily guest lists to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents after the Phoenix New Times revealed that staffers at two Arizona locations were reporting guests who appeared to be undocumented immigrants.
“Moving forward, to help ensure that this does not occur again, we will be issuing a directive to every one of our more than 1,400 locations nationwide, making clear that they are prohibited from voluntarily providing daily guest lists to ICE,” Raiza Rehkoff, an executive of parent company G6 Hospitality, told HuffPost.
Rehkoff, the director of public relations and marketing, also said that the company will be undertaking a “comprehensive review” of practices surrounding staff engagement with law enforcement, making certain that it is done “in a manner that is respectful to our guests’ rights.” The company will then issue updated guidelines, he said.
“Protecting the privacy and security of our guests are core values of our company,” Rehkoff added. “Motel 6 apologizes for this incident and will continue to work to earn the trust and patronage of our millions of loyal guests.”
Rehkoff confirmed to HuffPost on Wednesday night that employees at two Motel 6 locations in Phoenix were voluntarily sending guest lists to ICE agents each day without the knowledge of senior management. As soon as the practice was discovered by the chain, it was stopped, Rehkoff said.
The behavior of Motel 6 staff at the locations was exposed by a bombshell New Times report Wednesday that said ICE agents had arrested at least 20 people who were staying at the two Phoenix properties. One-third of those arrests involved agents knocking on a motel room door without a search warrant and asking the guest for permission to enter. Employees at both motels told the weekly newspaper that they were sharing customers’ personal information with ICE on a regular basis.
“We send a report every morning to ICE — all the names of everybody that comes in,” an unidentified front-desk clerk explained to New Times. “Every morning at about 5 o’clock, we do the audit and we push a button and it sends it to ICE.”
Law enforcement officials are barred by a 2015 Supreme Court ruling from forcing hotels to turn in guest information, which suggests that the Motel 6 employees had volunteered to work with ICE agents.
Empowered by the Trump administration and President Donald Trump’s promise to severely crack down on illegal immigration, ICE agents have ramped up efforts to arrest undocumented immigrants. In June, ICE Director Thomas Homan had warned that all undocumented immigrants “need to be worried” and said that ICE would also go after non-criminal undocumented people. The agency “shouldn’t play favorites,” he told a House Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security.
Within Trump’s first 100 days in office, the arrests of suspected illegal immigrants rose nearly 40 percent.