Washington state has sued budget hotel chain Motel 6, accusing it of illegally providing guest lists to U.S. immigration authorities.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said that motel employees had disclosed the names of at least 9,150 guests to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in violation of the state's consumer protection and anti-discrimination laws.
He said the motel also divulged birthdates, driver's license numbers, license plate numbers and room numbers, all without a warrant or the guests' knowledge or consent.
Ferguson said at least six Motel 6 locations in Washington state had engaged in the activity from June 2015 to May 2017.
He said Motel 6 knew ICE used the lists to target guests based on their national origin and to check whether any were wanted in connection with immigration issues. He said the disclosures led to the detentions of at least six people in Washington and noted the practices in the state mirrored those in Arizona, where media reports said in September that ICE had arrested 20 people at Motel 6 locations there after getting similar tips.
Local issue, chain said
At that time, Motel 6 said in a statement posted on Twitter that the practice was "implemented at the local level without the knowledge of senior management. When we became aware of it, it was discontinued."
"Motel 6 implied this was a local problem," Ferguson said in his statement. "We have found that is not true."
Motel 6's management company, G6 Hospitality, said this week that in September it ordered its more than 1,400 hotels in the United States and Canada to stop voluntarily giving guest lists to ICE agents.
"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 company said in a statement.
Motel 6 has been criticized in the past, notably by the American Civil Liberties Union, for sharing guest information with law enforcement agencies. In 2015, after a string of crimes at a Motel 6 in Rhode Island, the chain announced a change in policy that would allow its motels to share guest information with law enforcement.