Motel 6 will pay millions after releasing guest lists to ICE, leading to arrests and deportations
According to NPR, hotel chain Motel 6 has agreed to pay $7.6 million following an investigation revealing that multiple locations in its chain shared their guest lists with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. It is not yet known exactly how many people have been arrested and/or deported as a result of the actions of those Motel 6 franchises. Senior management denies any knowledge of this practice.
The settlement was reached in July, but the details were only just made public earlier this week. It is also still subject to approval by a federal judge. The agreement establishes that Motel 6 has to pay money directly to those affected by its actions and that the company has to establish tighter controls on what it terms “private information.” Motel 6’s corporate management had called for all of its chains to stop sharing information with ICE as of last fall after reporting from the Phoenix New Times revealed the practice to the nation.
Not everyone is believing Motel 6’s claims that these issues were contained to “the local level” as the company’s brass claims. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against the company that is still pending and spoke to NPR in January saying “I asked my team to investigate. And we now know what… Motel 6 said back in September  was not true,” Ferguson explained. “It’s far more widespread than they allowed the public to believe.”
One anonymous hotel clerk told the Phoenix publication, “We send a report every morning to ICE — all the names of everybody that comes in … we do the audit and we push a button and it sends it to ICE.” New York Times reporter Antonia Farzan told NPR, “With all of these cases we looked at, the person didn’t have any outstanding warrant. There weren’t any complaints. There was no sign that they were violating other laws while they were staying at the motel. In other words, they weren’t bothering anybody. They had paid to rent a room. So it’s hard to see what problem it was causing for the motel to have them as a customer.”
The tentative agreement gives customers who had information shared with no repercussions $50, those who were questioned by the police or other law enforcement agencies $1,000, and those who were placed in deportation proceedings at least $7,500. The lawsuit was filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), who released a joint statement with Motel 6:
“Motel 6 fully recognizes the seriousness of the situation and accepts full responsibility for both compensating those who were harmed and taking the necessary steps to ensure that we protect the privacy of our guests.
As part of the agreement, Motel 6 has implemented additional controls to protect private information and enhance corporate oversight in cases where law enforcement requests information, including when lawful requests are made.”