National News

Phoenix Motel 6 tipped off ICE on undocumented guests

Posted 4:23 p.m. Friday

— 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 sent us a statement saying:

"Over the past several days, 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). As previously stated, this was undertaken at the local level without the knowledge of senior management. When we became aware of it, it was discontinued.

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.

Additionally, to help ensure that our broader engagement with law enforcement is done in a manner that is respectful of our guests' rights, we will be undertaking a comprehensive review of our current practices and then issue updated, company-wide guidelines.

Protecting the privacy and security of our guests are core values of our company. Motel 6 apologizes for this incident and will continue to work to earn the trust and patronage of our millions of loyal guests."

The company has not shared how long they think this may have gone 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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