Em­ploy­ees of Mo­tel 6 in Phoenix area re­ported guests to im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials

Houston Chronicle - - BUSINESS - By Sa­man­tha Sch­midt

The Mo­tel 6 bud­get lodg­ing chain is com­monly as­so­ci­ated with its long­time slo­gan of wel­com­ing hos­pi­tal­ity: “We’ll leave the light on.”

But for im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­neys in the Phoenix area, the mo­tel chain has be­come the site of a trou­bling string of im­mi­gra­tion ar­rests. And ac­cord­ing to a re­port pub­lished Wed­nes­day by the Phoenix New Times, em­ploy­ees at two Mo­tel 6 lo­ca­tions may have been send­ing guest in­for­ma­tion di­rectly to Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment.

Af­ter the story pub­lished, Mo­tel 6 re­leased a state­ment say­ing the prac­tice was “im­ple­mented at the lo­cal level with­out the knowl­edge of se­nior man­age­ment.”

“When we be­came aware of it last week, it was dis­con­tin­ued,” Mo­tel 6 wrote in the state­ment posted on Twit­ter and Face­book.

Im­mi­gra­tion agents ar­rested at least 20 peo­ple at two Mo­tel 6 lo­ca­tions be­tween Fe­bru­ary and Au­gust, drop­ping by about every two weeks, the New Times re­ported. The ac­tual num­ber is likely to be even higher, the pub­li­ca­tion re­ported, be­cause sev­eral court doc­u­ments con­tained am­bigu­ous in­for­ma­tion about ar­rest lo­ca­tions.

A spokesper­son for ICE’s Phoenix di­vi­sion told the New Times that she was un­able to con­firm whether the agency rou­tinely re­views ho­tel guest lists or in­ves­ti­gates tips from Mo­tel 6 em­ploy­ees. “Those are in­ves­tiga­tive tech­niques that we wouldn’t be able to talk about,” she said.

The rev­e­la­tions in the New Times ar­ti­cle prompted ire from im­mi­gra­tion ad­vo­cates across so­cial me­dia, and praise from some sup­port­ers of President Don­ald Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion crack­down. It also stirred a de­bate over pri­vacy con­cerns and left many won­der­ing: If some Mo­tel 6 lo­ca­tions are tip­ping off ICE, could other mo­tels na­tion­wide be fol­low­ing suit? Oth­ers sug­gested the re­port could in­di­cate racial pro­fil­ing on be­half of mo­tel em­ploy­ees who re­port cer­tain guests to ICE.

Ra­dio host Tom Bodett has been the brand spokesman for the Mo­tel 6 chain for over 25 years, ac­cord­ing to his web­site.

On Wed­nes­day, Bodett tweeted: “If you’ve been vexed by the sit­u­a­tion with mo­tel6 in Phoenix. Here is the re­sponse from their HQ. I had faith this was the case.” Some of his fol­low­ers called on him to con­demn the chain.

Ross D. Franklin / As­so­ci­ated Press file

The Phoenix New Times re­ported that im­mi­gra­tion agents ar­rested at least 20 peo­ple at two Phoenixarea Mo­tel 6 lo­ca­tions ear­lier this year. They stopped by the lo­ca­tions about every two weeks.

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