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He Went to Motel 6 to Wrap His Kids' Gifts. Then ICE Came

Just one story cited by Washington state AG in announcing $12M settlement hotel chain will pay
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2019 11:03 AM CDT
This Jan. 3, 2018, file photo shows a Motel 6 in SeaTac, Wash.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

(Newser) – If you or any family members stayed at a Motel 6 in the state of Washington between Feb. 1, 2015, and Sept. 17, 2017, you may want to check out the latest statement from the attorney general there. Per NPR, Bob Ferguson announced that Motel 6 will pay $12 million to settle a lawsuit filed by his state after the hotel chain infringed on the privacy of tens of thousands of guests by sharing information on those guests with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The attorney general's statement notes that over that two-year-plus time period, workers at seven Motel 6 locations gave up to ICE personal details on about 80,000 guests, without those visitors' consent. In addition to guest names, info offered to the agency included everything from driver's license and passport numbers to DOBs, license plate numbers, and what rooms guests were staying in.

That release of info spurred ICE to investigate guests with Latino-sounding names, which led, in some cases, to loss of jobs and homes, and even to deportations, per the AG statement. One anecdote mentioned a Seattle dad who holed up in a Motel 6 room near SeaTac to wrap Christmas gifts for his kids. ICE agents detained him, then deported him; his wife had to go to the hotel room to pick up the Christmas gifts. "Motel 6's actions tore families apart and violated the privacy rights of tens of thousands of Washingtonians," Ferguson says. In addition to the $12 million payout—more than $10 million of which will go toward restitution for affected Motel 6 guests—Motel 6 also has signed a contract that assures no more guest info will be handed over without a warrant or via other lawful means, and the chain will train workers on what to do if they're asked to give up such information. (Read more Motel 6 stories.)

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