Motel 6 To Pay Out Another $12 Million For Handing Guest Info To ICE

Posted on Wednesday, 17th April 2019 @ 03:13 PM by Text Size A | A | A

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A handful of Motel 6 owners and operators suddenly decided the best use of their guest info was as fodder for law enforcement agencies. In Connecticut, a Motel 6 just decided to start faxing its guest list over to the local cop shop every night. After this questionable practice was made public, the PD announced it never asked for this info and was going to route it right into the shredder going forward.

Other Motel 6 owners decided ICE needed to know about every suspected illegal immigrant being housed overnight at their franchises. Using a highly-technical process that narrowed forwarded guest lists to those with foreign-sounding surnames, Motel 6 owners sicced ICE on paying customers in an effort to… I don’t know… earn good citizenship awards or something.

It may have netted ICE a few busts and warmed the cockles of meathead managers who had discovered a way to increase occupancy turnover rates with the federal government’s help, but it also netted Motel 6 a handful of lawsuits.

Last November, Motel 6 agreed to pay a $7.6 million settlement for sending guest lists to ICE offices in Arizona. NPR reports the chain is now about $20 million lighter, thanks to a similar settlement being reached in Washington.

The hotel chain Motel 6 has agreed to pay $12 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the state of Washington after several locations gave information on thousands of guests to Immigration and Customs Enforcement without warrants.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Thursday that Motel 6 shared the information of about 80,000 guests in the state from 2015 to 2017.

The chain also swore [PDF] it would never allow its franchisees and operators to deputize themselves as Lil’ ICE Helpers, and would tell them to keep their guest lists to themselves.

Defendants shall maintain a policy (“The Policy”) that they will not share 24 guest information with law enforcement, including ICE agents, without a judicially enforceable warrant or subpoena, except where there is a credible reason to believe that a guest, employee, or other individual is in imminent danger.

[…]

Defendants will train and require their employees not to provide guest information in response to any request, warrant, or subpoena from law enforcement, including DHS/ICE agents, without first obtaining authorization and directions from Defendants’ legal department or other trained individual(s) designated by Defendants.

$10 million of the settlement will be going directly to Motel 6 guests whose information was given to ICE, whether or not they actually had to suffer through any interactions with the overzealous agency. Hopefully, the substantial settlements will encourage Motel 6 to keep better tabs on the activities of its site operators — some of which apparently believe they’re operating ICE honeypots rather than short-term housing for travelers.

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Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Motel 6’s “actions are disturbing and they are unlawful,” saying the motel divulged to Immigration and Customs Enforcement information about more than 9,000 guests in Washington.

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