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Motel 6 and Immigration Authorities - Carlos Gamino
News from Attorney Carlos Gamino

Motel 6’s Guest Lists: Open Season on Undocumented Immigrants

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By Carlos Gamino

Motel 6 found itself in hot water in September when attorneys for a newly-deported man discovered that desk agents in several Phoenix-area locations were freely giving guest lists to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials.

Corporate leaders at Motel 6 claim that the actions were not sanctioned by the company and that this only happened at a local level. The motel chain issued a statement that says, in part, “It was brought to our attention that certain local Motel 6 properties in the Phoenix area were voluntarily providing daily guest lists to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)… this was undertaken at the local level without the knowledge of senior management. When we became aware of it, it was discontinued.”

According to a report by CNN, federal immigration agents arrested at least 20 people in two different Motel 6 locations in Phoenix in a 6-month period. 

Motel 6 said that it was issuing a directive to each location that made clear the company’s policy on voluntarily sharing guest lists with government authorities: It’s not acceptable.

For Alfonso Gutierrez Tovar, one of the guests at the motel who was deported, it’s too late. He was staying at the motel when ICE came knocking on his door, asked for him by name, and arrested him. Tovar says he saw ICE agents knock on four other doors and arrest others during the same incident.

ICE defended its actions via its spokeswoman, Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe. She said, “It’s worth noting that hotels and motels, including those in the Phoenix area, have frequently been exploited by criminal organizations engaged in highly dangerous illegal enterprises, including human trafficking and human smuggling.”

What Do You Think?

Was Motel 6 wrong for voluntarily providing guest lists to immigration officials? Were they well within their rights? I’d love to hear your take on what happened – and whether you think guests at a motel should have a reasonable expectation of privacy when they check in.

Share your thoughts on my Facebook page or join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #Motel6.

Carlos Gamino