Motel 6 will pay $12 million to settle lawsuit after sharing guest info with ICE

The disclosures resulted in targeted ICE investigations into guests.

April 8, 2019, 1:46 AM

Motel 6 has agreed to pay $12 million to settle a lawsuit that accused several Washington state locations of sharing personal guest information with U.S. immigration officials.

The budget motel operator illegally shared the personal information of about 80,000 customers for more than two years, resulting in a "targeted" ICE investigation into guests with Latino-sounding names, the Washington state attorney general's office announced Thursday.

The office said operators at seven Washington locations had voluntarily shared their guest lists with ICE agents between February 2015 and September 2017, without requiring a warrant.

"Each time Motel 6 released a guest list, it included the private information of every guest at the hotel without their knowledge or consent, violating their expectation of privacy," Attorney General Bob Ferguson's office said in a statement. "The Motel 6 guest information disclosures led to significant harmful consequences, including the detention and deportation of many guests and the suffering of their families."

PHOTO: Soap on sink at a Motel 6, a low cost budget hotel chain located in cities across the United States.
Soap on sink at a Motel 6, a low cost budget hotel chain located in cities across the United States.
Julie Dermansky/Corbis via Getty Images

Some guests were approached by ICE agents and detained at Motel 6 properties, while others were detained a few days after their hotel stay, according to the office.

One man was taken into custody at a Seattle location, where he was staying for one night to wrap Christmas presents for his four children, officials said.

"ICE agents approached him in the hotel's parking lot, detained him and deported him some days later. His wife had to retrieve the presents and his other belongings from the Motel 6 after his arrest," the attorney general's office said. "The man was the sole provider for the household, and his wife is currently struggling to support their toddler and four other children."

Motel 6, which has more than 1,400 U.S. locations, admitted that at least six had shared personal guest information with ICE. Investigators later discovered that a seventh location had shared guest lists with ICE.

The personal information released included customers' names, driver's license numbers, passport or green card information, room numbers, guest identification numbers, dates of birth and license plate numbers.

Motel 6 and parent company, G6 Hospitality, acknowledged the settlement in a statement to ABC News late Sunday.

"The safety and security of our guests, which includes protecting guest information, is our top priority, and we are pleased to be able to reach resolution in this matter," a company spokesperson said. "As part of the agreement, Motel 6 will continue to enforce its guest privacy policy, which prohibits the sharing of guest information except in cases where a judicially enforceable warrant or subpoena is present, or local law requires this information."

The company said it implemented a system to ensure corporate oversight and compliance in cases where law enforcement requests are made.

ABC News' Christopher Donato contributed to this report.

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