Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Motel 6 alleging that multiple Washington locations routinely provided U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement with confidential guest information.
The suit, filed in King County Superior Court, follows a September 2017 report that two Motel 6 locations in Arizona provided guest lists to ICE agents without a warrant. ICE agents would then run Latino sounding names through a database to check on guests’ immigration status, Ferguson said at a press conference Wednesday.
Motel 6 released a statement saying the practice was only implemented at “the local level.” But the Washington State DA’s investigation into the matter shows that six corporate-owned Motel 6 locations in the state carried out the same practice.
“We discovered that the same process we saw at those two locations in the Phoenix area has been happening right here in Washington State,” Ferguson said Wednesday. “In other words, what happened in Arizona was most assuredly not an isolated incident. As a result, many of thousands of names of Washingtonians had their names released to the federal government without their knowledge or consent.”
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Ferguson said that from Feb. 1 to Sept. 14, ICE agents detained at least six individuals through the unlawful process.
Motel 6 employees disclosed guests’ confidential information, including their names, guest room numbers, guest identification numbers, their dates of birth, license plate numbers and driver’s license numbers — an “unfair and deceptive business practice” that violates the Consumer Protection Act.
Motel 6 disclosed that four of the six locations that engaged in the practice revealed at least 9,151 guests’ information. Two more locations admitted to voluntarily releasing guest information, however they haven’t revealed how many guests’ information was disclosed.
“The 9,151 guests with information handed over to the federal government without their knowledge and request is just a starting point,” Ferguson said Wednesday.
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Ferguson said at one of the locations, in South Everett, Washington, ICE “would usually arrive early in the morning or late at night.”
ICE agents requested that day’s guest list from the motel, which employees willingly turned over, along with a Motel 6-created “law enforcement acknowledgment form.”
Nothing on the form asked whether a warrant was involved, Ferguson said.
Ferguson said that according to Motel 6 employees, ICE agents circled Latino and Latina-sounding names on the guest registry and “returned to their vehicles, presumably to run those names through a database.”
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“Motel 6 told the federal government where thousands of people were sleeping on any particular night,” Ferguson said.
Motel 6 has more than 1,200 locations across North America, 26 of them in Washington.