Washington state sues Motel 6 over cooperation with immigration authorities

Washington state sues Motel 6 over cooperation with immigration authorities
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Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) has sued Motel 6 for providing guest lists to federal immigration agents, Ferguson’s office said Wednesday.

The office began investigating Motel 6 after two of the low-cost chain’s locations in Arizona provided its guests’ personal information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. Six additional locations in Washington provided the same information covering more than 9,100 guests to ICE agents, Ferguson’s office said.

“Washingtonians have a right to privacy, and protection from discrimination,” Ferguson said in a statement announcing the lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court. “I will hold Motel 6 accountable and uncover the whole story of their disturbing conduct.”

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Motel 6’s parent company, G6, said the hotel chain had directed its locations to stop cooperating with ICE. It also said it would cooperate with Ferguson's office.
 
“In September, Motel 6 issued a directive to every one of our more than 1,400 locations, making it clear that they are prohibited from voluntarily providing daily guests lists to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Motel 6 takes this matter very seriously, and we have and will continue to fully cooperate with the Office of the State Attorney General,” the spokeswoman, Jillian Perera, said in an email.

The disclosures, including driver’s license numbers, birth dates and license plate numbers, violated Motel 6’s privacy policies, Ferguson’s office said. They also violated the Consumer Protection Act and Washington’s Law Against Discrimination, it added, asserting Motel 6 knew ICE agents were targeting customers with Hispanic last names.

ICE agents visiting one of the Washington locations, in south Everett, would obtain a guest list from the front desk, circle Latino-sounding names, and on one occasion detained someone staying at the hotel, Ferguson’s office said. The south Everett location gave out personal information 228 times in a 225-day period, according to the lawsuit.

The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled in the past that hotel guest registry information is private information, and that use by law enforcement organizations like ICE would violate the right to privacy enshrined in the state's constitution.

Ferguson’s office said it would ask the court to order Motel 6 to pay up to $2,000 for each customer’s information it gave to ICE agents — or at least $18.2 million, plus court costs and fees.