Mo­tel 6 work­ers in Ari­zona told ICE about guests

Dayton Daily News - - NATION & WORLD -

AL­BU­QUERQUE, N.M. — Em­ploy­ees at Mo­tel 6 lo­ca­tions in Ari­zona reg­u­larly handed over to the gov­ern­ment in­for­ma­tion that led to its ho­tel guests be­ing de­tained and de­ported, the com­pany has ac­knowl­edged.

The rev­e­la­tion of this prac­tice in a re­port Wed­nes­day by the Phoenix New Times drew sharp re­bukes from hu­man rights groups and an ar­ray of calls to boy­cott Mo­tel 6, one of the largest ho­tel chains in the coun­try.

Re­fer­ring to the shar­ing of cus­tomer in­for­ma­tion in Ari­zona with Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment of­fi­cers, Raiza Rehkoff, a spokes­woman for G6 Hos­pi­tal­ity, the Texas-based par­ent com­pany of Mo­tel 6, said in an email that “this was im­ple­mented at the lo­cal level with­out the knowl­edge of se­nior man­age­ment.” G6 Hos­pi­tal­ity is con­trolled by Black­stone, one of the world’s largest pri­vate equity firms.

Rehkoff said se­nior ex­ec­u­tives be­came aware of the prac­tice only in re­cent days, and when they did, they moved to end it.

“We are cur­rently in­ves­ti­gat­ing and will pro­vide more in­for­ma­tion shortly,” she added.

Im­mi­gra­tion lawyers rep­re­sent­ing peo­ple who were de­tained while they were stay­ing at Mo­tel 6 lo­ca­tions and were later de­ported said they had col­lected ev­i­dence show­ing that the prac­tice was wide­spread, and not lim­ited to one state. Juan Rocha, an im­mi­gra­tion lawyer in Ari­zona, said an em­ployee at a Mo­tel 6 in Wash­ing­ton state told him of the same prac­tice there.

“We’re look­ing at a sit­u­a­tion where peo­ple with His­panic sur­names check into Mo­tel 6, get their names re­ported to ICE, and a few hours later there are im­mi­gra­tion agents knock­ing on the door to take them away,” Rocha said. “This is racial pro­fil­ing that is tear­ing fam­i­lies apart.”

Yas­meen Pitts O’Keefe, a spokes­woman for ICE in Phoenix, de­clined to com­ment di­rectly, say­ing in a state­ment that the or­ga­ni­za­tion does not usu­ally dis­close or dis­cuss in­for­ma­tion re­lated to the sources of its en­force­ment leads. She ac­knowl­edged that some leads come from pri­vate cit­i­zens, but said the agency does not pay any bounty or re­ward.

One of the rights groups crit­i­ciz­ing Mo­tel 6 over the prac­tice Thurs­day was the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union.

“What poli­cies are you putting into place to en­sure that your staff don’t re­port guests to ICE in the fu­ture?” the ACLU asked in a mes­sage on Twit­ter.

Ray Ybarra Mal­don­ado, a Phoenix lawyer, said that he, too, had a client who was picked up while stay­ing at Mo­tel 6 and then de­ported.

“As a busi­ness strat­egy, this de­fies com­mon sense re­gard­ing the treat­ment of an es­tab­lish­ment’s pay­ing guests,” Mal­don­ado said. “This prac­tice vi­o­lates equal-pro­tec­tion guar­an­tees. Peo­ple have put two and two to­gether to fig­ure out how Mo­tel 6 was il­le­gally tar­get­ing its own cus­tomers.”

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