The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) has filed a lawsuit against Motel 6 in federal court in Arizona.
MALDEF is suing Motel 6 on behalf of individuals detained by immigration officials. Phoenix New Times first reported about two Motel 6 locations in Phoenix turning over guest lists to ICE. According to the story, employees would send the list daily. Agents would then confront undocumented guests at their rooms while identifying themselves as police, and arrest them.
Earlier this month, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit after it was discovered that the practice was happening in his state. According to a press release from the Washington State Office of the Attorney General, four locations released the information of 9,151 guests to ICE violating privacy acts. Specifically, the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Ferguson claims that the motel chain violated the Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Law Against Discrimination thousands of times.
“After news reports in Arizona revealed Motel 6 staff was handing over guests’ private information, Motel 6 implied this was a local problem,” Ferguson said in the press release. “We have found that is not true. Washingtonians have a right to privacy, and protection from discrimination. I will hold Motel 6 accountable and uncover the whole story of their disturbing conduct.”
The lawsuit filed by MALDEF on behalf of the Arizona victims is suing the Motel 6 and 10 employees. MALDEF attorneys claim that the employees and Motel 6 violated federal and state laws banning discrimination based on national origin.
“This lawsuit should serve as a warning to companies that attempt to enforce immigration laws by conspiring with the federal government to violate the civil rights of their guests,” said Andres Gallegos, staff attorney at MALDEF, in a press release. “Our clients now face being separated from their families simply because they rented a hotel room.”
Officials for the business claim they ordered all of their locations to stop this practice after the first new reports.
“In September, Motel 6 issued a directive to every one of our more than 1,400 locations, making it clear that they are prohibited from voluntarily providing daily guests lists to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),” read a statement from Motel 6, according to NPR. “While we cannot comment on specific pending litigation, we take this issue and the privacy of our guests very seriously.”