ICE used info provided by Motel 6 to target 'guests with Latino-sounding names,' lawsuit says

The lawsuit was filed by the attorney general of Washington state.

ByMEGHAN KENEALLY
January 4, 2018, 2:04 PM

— -- A new lawsuit alleges that the hotel chain Motel 6 regularly supplied guest lists and personal information of guests to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which used the information to target people for arrest, including guests with "Latino-sounding names."

The suit, filed by the attorney general of Washington state, criticizes the "unfair, deceptive, and discriminatory practices" of the hotel chain.

The practice allegedly happened in at least six Motel 6 locations in Washington between 2015 and 2017, and included the personal information of at least 9,151 guests, according to the suit. The suit, filed in state Superior Court, also alleges that the practice was not limited to Washington and occurred at other branches of the hotel chain in other states, specifically citing Phoenix, Arizona.

"On a number of occasions after reviewing the guest list, ICE agents arrested or detained Motel 6 guests," the suit states. ICE agents work under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security and are responsible for arresting people who are not legal residents.

PHOTO: Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson addresses a news conference, Jan. 3, 2018, in Seattle, announcing that his office is suing Motel 6.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson addresses a news conference, Jan. 3, 2018, in Seattle, announcing that his office is suing Motel 6.
Elaine Thompson/AP

A spokeswoman for Motel 6's parent company, G6 Hospitality, did not immediately return ABC News' requests for comment, but gave a statement to The Washington Post.

"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 statement from spokeswoman Raiza Rehkoff said in The Post.

The lawsuit alleges that the guest registry information "was provided on an almost daily basis by some motels without the ICE agents having provided any documentation or evidence of reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a search warrant for the requested guest registry information."

PHOTO: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), agents detain an immigrant, Oct. 14, 2015, in Los Angeles.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), agents detain an immigrant, Oct. 14, 2015, in Los Angeles.
John Moore/Getty Images

After singling "out guests based on national origin, including guests with Latino-sounding names," the agents would "determine if any of the guests it identified were wanted by ICE in connection with civil immigration matters," the suit states.

"Motel 6 staff observed ICE identify guests of interest to ICE, including by circling guests with Latino-sounding names," according to the suit.

The lawsuit alleges that the practice is a violation of the state's Consumer Protection Act, and the state of Washington seeks "injunctive and other equitable relief for Motel 6's actions."

PHOTO: A Motel 6 in Phoenix pictured, Sept. 14, 2017, FILE.
A Motel 6 in Phoenix pictured, Sept. 14, 2017, FILE.
Anita Snow/AP, FILE

For its part, ICE would not confirm that it received information from the hotel chain and declined to comment on the lawsuit specifically since the suit is directed toward the hotel chain and does not name ICE as a defendant.

"Due to operational security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does not typically disclose or discuss specific information related to the source of its enforcement leads. Further, ICE is not party to the litigation and as such, will not comment any further regarding the lawsuit," ICE spokeswoman Yasmeen Pitts O'Keefe said in a statement to ABC News.

"The agency receives viable enforcement tips from a host of sources, including other law enforcement agencies, relevant databases, crime victims, and the general public via the agency’s tip line and online tip form," her statement added.

ABC News' Geneva Sands contributed to this report.

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