AG Ferguson sues Motel 6 for cooperating with ICE

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is suing Motel 6 for allegedly providing private guest information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“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. “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.”

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The lawsuit was filed in King County Superior Court. The AG’s office began investigating the motel chain’s Washington locations in September, after the Arizona news broke. The company stated that senior officials with the motel were not aware this was a practice, and was only done at the local level in Arizona. But Ferguson claims that Washington locations operated the same way.

In response to the lawsuit, Motel 6 released the following statement:

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). Motel 6 takes this matter very seriously, and we have and will continue to fully cooperate with the Office of the State Attorney General.

The AG’s office says that Motel 6 admits to sharing guest information with ICE from at least six of its locations in the state. The office states it has been routine to provide private information to ICE for at least two years. It led to the detention of at least six individuals in Washington.

Ferguson argues that this practice “constitutes an unfair and deceptive business practice, and violates the Consumer Protection Act.”

Motel 6 investigation

The AG’s office also reports:

  • The six motels the AG’s office looked into were in: Bellingham; North Everett; South Everett; South Seattle; SeaTac; and South Tacoma.
  • Four Motel 6 locations in Washington released personal information of at least 9,151 guests to ICE.
  • The motel’s privacy policy states that it will protect customers’ information.
  • Personal information included driver’s license numbers, names, birthdays, license plates, room numbers, guest identification numbers.
  • The AG’s office argues that information released of each individual constitutes a violation; it is asking for $2,000 per violation.

The AG’s office states that the motel company had to be aware that ICE was using its information to target customers based on their Latino-sounding names, and constitutes a violation of the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

Motel 6 operates 26 locations in Washington state which are franchises and company owned. The AG’s office is also looking into the remaining 20 locations.