Motel 6 has been accused of giving personal guest information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without guests’ permission.
According to a lawsuit filed by the state of Washington, Motel 6 provided ICE with regular lists of information including names, DOBs, driver’s license numbers, and even room numbers.
Motel 6 staffers told investigators that ICE agents circled any “Latino-sounding” names on the lists and returned to their cars to run background checks. At least six people were arrested or detained in Washington.
“The scale of what Motel 6 was doing is deeply disturbing to me,” said Washington state attorney Bob Ferguson.
The budget hotel chain is believed to have violated Washington’s Consumer Protection Act over 9,000 times during the past two years. The lawsuit seeks $2,000 per violation.
Tacoma attorney Tim Warden-Hertz called the allegations against Motel 6 “incredibly problematic” for immigrants and non-immigrants alike. “When I go to the hotel, or when I pick up the phone, I don’t expect that that information is going to be handed over to the government. For a business to do this to their own customers is sort of baffling, and certainly I think should make people think twice about where they take their own business.”
Motel 6 admitted to giving away guests’ private information, but insists the crime took place at a local level without the knowledge of senior management. Motel 6 said two of its locations in Phoenix, Arizona had also been providing lists to ICE. At least 20 people were arrested.
In September, Motel 6 sent a “directive” to all locations in the US, making it clear that employees were not to give guest lists to ICE agents.
ICE has refused to comment on the accusations against Motel 6. “Due to operational security, [ICE] does not typically disclose or discuss specific information related to the source of its enforcement leads,” said agency spokeswomanYasmeen Pitts O’Keefe. “The agency’s immigration enforcement actions are targeted and lead driven, prioritizing individuals who pose a risk to our communities. It’s worth noting that hotels and motels have frequently been exploited by criminal organizations engaged in highly dangerous illegal enterprises, including human trafficking.”
Author’s Note: As much as I support ICE and law enforcement, this is a serious breach of privacy. Motel 6 deserves to be sued over this. ICE can track illegal immigrants without collecting personal information about innocent people without their consent.
Editor’s note: Privacy is a Constitutional right. Everytime we allow that to erode we make America less free.