In September, a Phoenix New Times report revealed that staff at Motel 6 locations in Arizona were regularly handing over guest lists to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. A new lawsuit from Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson alleges that the same thing was happening in at least six Washington State locations—and that the practice violates the Washington State Consumer Protection act.
In response to the Arizona story, Motel 6 claimed the practice took place “at a local level,” and has since implemented a policy to prevent the practice.
“After a few days, the media moved on and everybody assumed these actions really were limited to these two Phoenix locations,” said Ferguson announcing the suit. “We, however, decided to investigate.”
The Attorney General’s office’s formal investigation, Ferguson said, found that “the same process that we saw in those two locations in the Phoenix area has been happening right here in Washington State... what happened in Arizona was most assuredly not an isolated incident.”
Ferguson said that “many thousands of names”—along with room numbers, guest ID numbers, dates of birth, license plate numbers, and drivers license numbers—were turned over to ICE at state Motel 6 locations as a result of the practice, and that at least six individuals were detained.
AG/NW Human Rights project: Motel 6 targeted folks who seemed Hispanic with zero evidence of immigration status.— Jon Humbert (@jonhumbert) January 3, 2018
Evidence that employees were specifically trained on how to do this.
According to the Attorney General, Motel 6 told state investigators that between January 2015 and September 2017, 9,151 guests had their personal information given away without a warrant at four locations in Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett. Ferguson said that information is “not complete” and they expect the number to be higher.
Additionally, Ferguson said that Motel 6 told investigators that locations in Bellingham and Seatac also divulged information to ICE agents without a warrant, but no further specifics were provided.
If AG Ferguson's suit is successful against Motel 6, the thousands of violations could be a fine of more than $18 million.— Jon Humbert (@jonhumbert) January 3, 2018
There are five other corporate-owned Motel 6 locations in the state and several other franchises. Motel 6 told investigators that the corporate locations did not release personal information, but Ferguson said “we will confirm this is true as part of this litigation.”
Watch the full announcement below. (Not seeing the video? Click here.)
In a statement, Motel 6 Corporate reiterated that they’ve directed all of their locations to not provide information to ICE voluntarily, and said they intend to fully cooperate with the Attorney General.
This article has been updated with Motel 6’s statement.