It’s not the first time Motel 6 has been accused of feeding guest lists to I.C.E., either.
Motel 6 is expected to pay $12 million to settle a lawsuit with the state of Washington, which charged the budget hospitality chain with illegally handing over guest lists to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
According to National Public Radio, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Thursday that Motel 6 shared the personal and booking information of at least 80,000 guests from 2015 through 2017.
By and large, skepticism centered on consumers with Latino-sounding names. Ferguson said that targeted guests would sometimes face interrogation by I.C.E agents. In some cases, individuals suspected of being in the country illegally would be detained or deported.
Similar accusations of misconduct have been levied at Motel 6 locations across the United States, including a string of franchises in the Southwest.
The company’s corporate management has largely denied that they maintain any discriminatory policies or direct employees to bring the law down on undocumented guests.
“Motel 6 fully recognizes the seriousness of the situation and accepts fully responsibility for both compensating those who were harmed and taking the necessary steps to ensure that we protect the privacy of our guests,” the company said. “Since this issue emerged, we’ve taken strong action to make sure a similar issue never again happens in the future.”
But Motel 6’s actions might be too little, too late—Ferguson noted that localized policies likely separated or otherwise victimized thousands of families.
“Motel 6’s actions tore families apart and violated the privacy rights of tens of thousands of Washingtonians,” Ferguson said in a statement. “Our resolution holds Motel 6 accountable for illegally handing over guests’ private information without a warrant.”
“The company has also implemented a system of additional controls to ensure corporate oversight and compliance in cases where law enforcement requests are made.”
Along with providing more training to employees, Motel 6 will also open a 24-hour hotline. The call board will serve and assist workers who receive requests for guest information.
The company’s website will also feature a tool that allows guests to report suspected privacy violations.
NPR notes that the $10 million of the settlement total will be awarded to affected guests, including those who were never contacted by I.C.E.