But now the national chain is being sued by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson for handing over thousands of motel guest’s information to federal officials.
Several Motel 6 locations in Washington routinely provided U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with confidential guest information, some of which occured on a daily basis. Some guest were even arrested based on the information provided.
PINAC News obtained the lawsuit which was filed on Wednesday in Seattle. The lawsuit details how since 2015 Motel 6 gave 9,000 guest’s information to ICE without any search warrants being issued for the information.
Motel 6 responded to the lawsuit saying: “[The information released was limited to] the local level without the knowledge of senior management. Motel 6 takes this matter very seriously, and we have and will continue to fully cooperate with the Office of the State Attorney General.”
Initial allegations from The Phoenix New Times pointed to Motel 6 locations in Arizona that were giving information to ICE. When Ferguson heard of the allegations in Arizona, he launched his own investigation into Washington Motel 6 locations that engaged in the same practice.
In fact, Motel 6 employees from Washington locations told Ferguson that “ICE agents circled any Latino or Latina-sounding names on the guest registry, and returned to their vehicles.” The agents would then run background checks on the circled names without any reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
“Washingtonians have a right to privacy, and protection from discrimination. I will hold Motel 6 accountable and uncover the whole story of their disturbing conduct,” Ferguson said.
The attorney general noted in the lawsuit that Motel 6 used unfair and deceptive business practices and violated Washington state privacy laws, while also noting that Motel 6 engaged in discrimination based on nationality. The Washington State Supreme Court considers guest information private.
ICE spokeswoman Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe released a statement refusing to:
“disclose or discuss specific information related to the source of ICE enforcement leads. It’s worth noting that hotels and motels have frequently been exploited by criminal organizations engaged in highly dangerous illegal enterprises, including human trafficking and human smuggling.”
Ferguson seeks a permanent injunction forbidding Motel 6 from continuing releasing guest information. Ferguson is also seeking civil penalties and attorney fees. Specifically, the lawsuit seeks $2,000 per guest whose information was released.