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Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal

Representing the 7th District of Washington

Reps. Jayapal and Gallego Demand Answers from ICE on Motel 6 Operations

September 15, 2017
Press Release
Call for an end to random screening and harassment of hotel guests by immigration authorities

WASHINGTON, DC ­– Today, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) wrote to Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan demanding answers in the wake of reports that the agency regularly obtained guest lists from two Phoenix-area Motel 6 locations and used that information to question and detain individuals believed to be undocumented. The letter calls on Homan to expressly prohibit the practice of combing hotel records to identify suspects and requests information about how and why this misguided tactic was employed, including whether guests at other hotels have been similarly targeted. 

“Randomly accosting Latino hotel guests is just the latest outrage from an agency empowered by President Trump to deport mothers and family breadwinners,” said Rep. Gallego.  “We deserve to know who signed-off on this outrageous tactic and whether it’s being used by ICE agents in other parts of the country.  Targeting discount hotels is a move straight from the Joe Arpaio playbook and it provides fresh evidence that it’s time for Congress to rein-in Donald Trump’s unaccountable, out-of-control immigration authorities.”

The full text of the letter is below. A signed electronic copy can be found here.

Dear Acting Director Homan:

We were extremely concerned to read reports, subsequently confirmed by the company, that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have been soliciting lists of guests at Motel 6 hotels in Arizona for the purpose of conducting enforcement actions. We strongly condemn this practice and urge you to expressly forbid the random screening and harassment of hotel guests by your personnel in the future.

Specifically, news reports indicate that ICE agents have been obtaining the names and room numbers of guests at two Phoenix-area hotels each morning at 5AM.  Individuals staying at these hotels whom your agency suspected of being undocumented were then visited by agents – in many cases without a warrant – and subjected to questioning and possible arrest.

This tactic raises a number of grave concerns. It obviously has the potential to deter tourism to the State of Arizona, potentially leading to the loss of jobs and revenue. More importantly, instead of targeting your limited resources at individuals who pose a genuine threat to public safety, it appears that agents in Arizona have been operating an indiscriminant dragnet, reportedly aided by hotel managers. If true, this clearly demonstrates a preference on the part of ICE's leadership in Arizona for convenience and efficiency at the expense of due process or adherence to sensible enforcement priorities.  It also raises alarming questions about ICE’s willingness to engage in racial profiling in the process of identifying and questioning suspects based on the Motel 6 guest lists.  Further, it’s important to note that Motel 6 provides short-term accommodations to survivors of domestic violence and to people attending medical appointments at area hospitals.     

Consistent with our oversight responsibilities, we urgently request a full accounting of ICE actions connected to these reports, including:

  • The number of individuals apprehended at the two hotels in question and the disposition of their cases;
  • Whether you or other ICE leaders in Washington were informed of the practice of combing hotel guest lists for undocumented immigrants and signed off on the use of this tactic;
  • Whether this approach has been – or is currently – employed elsewhere; and,
  • Any ICE guidance or memoranda pertaining to the use of so-called “knock-and-talk” operations at homes, businesses or hotels.

Again, we urge you in the strongest possible terms to formally prohibit the random screening of hotel guests for the purpose of identifying suspected undocumented immigrants and to provide a clearer picture of precisely how and why this misguided tactic was employed. 

We look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Ruben Gallego            

Member of Congress

Pramila Jayapal 

Member of Congress