Motel 6 franchise owners suddenly decided it was their job to play part-time cop/immigration officer and use their paying customers as grist for the laughably-named criminal justice system. One branch began faxing guest lists to the local PD without any prompting from the recipient agency. Another decided anyone who didn’t look American (guess what that means) should be reported to ICE.
This drew the attention of the internet. It also drew the attention of the Washington state attorney general. Finally, it drew the attention of the federal court system, but not for the reasons these self-appointed posse members expected. The chain was hit with a class action lawsuit alleging privacy violations related to the unprompted reporting of Hispanic guests to ICE.
This is going to cost the motel chain some of its light money, as Reuters reports.
Motel 6 will pay up to $7.6 million to Hispanic guests to settle a proposed class-action lawsuit claiming that it violated their privacy by regularly providing guest lists to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
The chain (of course) admitted no liability nor agreed that it had engaged in unconstitutional activities. Instead, it mumbled something about “recognizing the seriousness of the situation” and that it would, at some point in the near future, respect the privacy of its guests.
The respect will be mandatory if the full settlement is approved by the court.
Motel 6 also agreed to a two-year consent decree barring it from sharing guest data with immigration authorities absent warrants, subpoenas, or threats of serious crime or harm.
I guess the feeling must be that two years of not screwing paying customers out of their privacy will result in the creation of good habits. That seems unlikely to have a permanent effect, so it would have been nice to see this consent decree govern the chain’s behavior in perpetuity, but you take what you can get.
This isn’t necessarily Motel 6’s fault — at least not at the corporate level. There’s no indication the chain’s owner, G6 Hospitality, ever instructed franchise operators to engage in these activities. These appear to have been initiatives specific to some Motel 6 locations in Arizona. They were uncovered by the Phoenix New Times’s examination of court records and confirmed by Motel 6 employees who said they “just pushed a button” to send guest lists to ICE.
These freelance ICE operative have screwed the Constitutional pooch so badly their parent company will be paying out the equivalent of ~110,000 overnight stays. Whatever discomfort they caused their guests will hopefully pale in comparison to the heat they’re feeling now.
The proposed order [PDF] is embedded below.
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