Motel 6 Will Pay $12 Million to Washington State for Cooperating with Federal Immigration Officials

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Anita Snow

The Motel 6 hotel chain will pay $12 million to the state of Washington because several of its properties in the state reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that some guests could be in the United States illegally.

In 2013, the King County Washington City Council passed an ordinance that prohibits law enforcement from cooperating with ICE unless a warrant has been issued for an individual.

Washington state Office of the Attorney General announced the settlement on Thursday.

“Many Motel 6 locations in Washington turned over the personal information of their guests to ICE on a daily basis without requiring a warrant,” the press release said. “From 2015 to 2017, seven Washington locations shared the personal information of approximately 80,000 guests.”

“Each time Motel 6 released a guest list, it included the private information of every guest at the hotel without their knowledge or consent, violating their expectation of privacy,” the press release said.

The Office of the Attorney General said because of Motel 6’s cooperation with ICE “many Washington consumers faced questioning from ICE, detainment or deportation.”

“Motel 6’s actions tore families apart and violated the privacy rights of tens of thousands of Washingtonians,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement. “Our resolution holds Motel 6 accountable for illegally handing over guests’ private information without a warrant. Any other business that tries to violate Washingtonians’ right to privacy can expect to hear from my office.”

National Public Radio (NPR) said it is the second settlement Motel 6 has reached with the state in recent months and the corporation also settled a separate lawsuit in Arizona.

“Motel 6 has also signed a legally binding commitment to no longer share guest information without a warrant at any of its locations nationwide, a practice the chain says it has already ended,” NPR reported.

NPR reported: 

The company told NPR in an emailed statement that, as part of the agreement, it would, “continue to enforce its guest privacy policy, which prohibits the sharing of guest information except in cases where a judicially enforceable warrant or subpoena is present, or local law requires this information.”

“The company has also implemented a system of additional controls to ensure corporate oversight and compliance in cases where law enforcement requests are made.”

In November, Motel 6 settled a separate lawsuit filed in Arizona by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. That lawsuit identified eight Latino plaintiffs who were detained, including one who was deported.

The Office of the Attorney General gave two examples of men who were in the country illegally whose families faced “financial strain” after they were detained. One man was deported and the other remains in the country but lost his job.

The office also announced that some of the people in the country illegally could be eligible for “restitution.”

“Ferguson encourages consumers and their family members affected by Motel 6’s unlawful policy to contact to the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division here,” the press release said. “Washington’s consumer protection laws protect everyone who lives in Washington state.”

“The Attorney General’s Office helps all Washingtonians,” the press release said. “The office is not part of the federal government and will not turn over information to immigration authorities.”

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.