Motel 6 agrees to settle for millions after turning over Latino guest information to ICE

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 28: Honduran immigration detainees sit in a holding cell before boarding a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), deportation flight bound for San Pedro Sula, Honduras on February 28, 2013 in Mesa, Arizona. ICE operates 4-5 flights per week from Mesa to Central America, deporting hundreds of undocumented immigrants detained in western states of the U.S. With the possibility of federal budget sequestration, ICE released 303 immigration detainees in the last week from detention centers throughout Arizona. More than 2,000 immigration detainees remain in ICE custody in the state. Most detainees typically remain in custody for several weeks before they are deported to their home country, while others remain for longer periods while their immigration cases work through the courts. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Remember back when Motel 6 decided to leave a light on for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and turn over guests with Latino-sounding names” for deportation? The motel chain’s decision to moonlight as mass deportation agents is set to cost the company millions, following legal action from a group of Latino guests racially profiled by the motel chain in Arizona and Washington state.

“Motel 6 will pay up to $7.6 million to Hispanic guests to settle a proposed class-action lawsuit claiming that it violated their privacy by regularly providing guest lists” to ICE, Reuters reports. “Motel 6 also agreed to a two-year consent decree barring it from sharing guest data with immigration authorities absent warrants, subpoenas, or threats of serious crime or harm.”

That probably should have been the policy all along, except it wasn’t, and it’s going to be an expensive mistake: “up to $5.6 million will go to Motel 6 guests who faced immigration removal proceedings after their personal information was shared,” Reuters continues. Last fall, Motel 6 admitted that motel employees regularly shared guest information with ICE. In two Arizona locations, agents conducted at least 20 arrests between February 2017 and August 2017 without any arrests at surrounding motels during that same period. 

In Washington state, Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued due to the same practice, alleging that “Motel 6 staff observed ICE identify guests of interest to ICE, including by circling guests with Latino-sounding names,” resulting in numerous arrests. The New York Times reported that “one of the plaintiffs, who is identified with a pseudonym, was held in detention for over a month after ICE officials arrested him in Phoenix outside the Motel 6 where he was staying. The lawsuit said a Motel 6 employee had photocopied his driver’s license from Mexico.”

“Motel 6 corporate leaders promised to put a stop to such practices throughout their chain of 1,400 hotels,” the Los Angeles Times reported last year, but that won’t do much to assuage the fears of Latinos who called for a boycott of the chain. “Motel 6 fully recognizes the seriousness of the situation and accepts full responsibility,” said the chain and MALDEF, which filed the lawsuit, “for both compensating those who were harmed and taking the necessary steps to ensure that we protect the privacy of our guests.”

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