National News

Phoenix Motel 6 tipped off ICE on undocumented guests

Posted September 14

— A man is facing deportation after his attorney says a hotel tipped off Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents he was staying there.

Last June, a man named Jose Renteria Alvarado was staying in the Motel 6 at 51st Ave and McDowell Rd when he had a knock on his door.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were there looking for him.

How they found him? His attorney, Robert McWhirter, believes the hotel was sending its guest list to the federal agency.

"I imagine what went on here is they probably took a look at the names on the guest registry and compared that to a database of people that have been deported," said McWhirter.

Alvarado had been deported once before. Before that, he had only a minor criminal record, but back in the country, he was now considered a higher priority in the eyes of ICE.

But it turns out his privacy, and everyone else's, is up to the discretion of the hotel.

"The hotel may have a policy that they won't give out their registry without a valid warrant. But if they don't have that policy and they agree that police can search their registries, you don't have any right as a guest to say, 'Wait, I don't want people to know,'" explained McWhirter.

Motel 6 spokeswoman Raiza Rehkoff sent us a statement saying, "This was implemented at the local level without the knowledge of senior management. When we became aware of it last week, it was discontinued."

Rehkoff says they're still investigating how long this went on for.

When asked about the practice, ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice sent the following statement:

"Due to operational security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does not typically disclose or discuss specific information related to the source of its enforcement leads. The agency receives viable enforcement tips from a host of sources, including other law enforcement agencies, relevant databases, crime victims, and the general public via the agency's tip line and online tip form. Private citizens who provide enforcement leads to ICE are not compensated for the information.

In carrying out their immigration enforcement mission, ICE deportation officers make arrests nationwide every day as part of the agency's ongoing efforts to ensure domestic security, public safety, and the integrity of our nation's borders. The agency's immigration enforcement actions are targeted and lead driven, prioritizing individuals who pose a risk to our communities. 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."

Alvarado will be sentenced Thursday to six months in a federal prison, then deported.

"I'll tell you one thing, I won't stay at a [M]otel 6 now," said McWhirter.

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