Motel 6 to Settle Class-Action Discrimination Lawsuit Over Collusion With ICE

1530 North 52nd Drive, one of the Phoenix Motel 6 locations that was providing guest lists to ICE.
1530 North 52nd Drive, one of the Phoenix Motel 6 locations that was providing guest lists to ICE. Joseph Flaherty
Motel 6 has reached a tentative agreement with a prominent Latino civil rights group to settle a class-action discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of Latino guests, according to court documents.

Last fall, Phoenix New Times revealed that two corporate-owned Motel 6 properties in Phoenix were routinely sharing guest lists with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In January, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) sued Motel 6 and parent company G6 Hospitality on behalf of eight anonymous plaintiffs who were caught up in the ICE dragnet that snared more than 20 guests at Motel 6 locations in Phoenix. Five plaintiffs are residents of metro Phoenix, two live in Tucson, and one lives in Washington state, according to the complaint.

MALDEF said that by sharing guest information with immigration authorities, Motel 6 violated an array of state and federal laws. In federal court in Arizona, the organization argued that the budget motel chain discriminated against customers, violated their Fourth Amendment rights, defrauded guests, and ran afoul of an Arizona law guaranteeing the right to privacy.

“This is a note of settlement in principle," MALDEF President Thomas Saenz said in a statement to New Times. "We are still working on the details and plan to present to the court a public filing with the full details of the settlement in the next couple of weeks."

The parties notified U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell on July 6 that they have agreed to a settlement. Details of the settlement are not available, and any agreement is still subject to the judge's approval. Motel 6 and MALDEF plan to submit additional documentation to the court by August 15, according to court records.

G6 Hospitality did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At the time of the lawsuit, Saenz explained that his organization is hoping to deter unlawful collaboration with ICE by private entities. He commended the plaintiffs for taking on a corporation.

“We believe the lawsuit filed today will vindicate their rights and will demonstrate, formally and officially, that immigrants of any status have a right to privacy and protection when they choose to register at a hotel or motel across this country,” Saenz said on January 23.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has also sued Motel 6 on behalf of his state over discrimination and consumer protection violations.

Investigators discovered that six corporate-owned Motel 6 locations in Washington regularly turned over guest information to ICE — including dates of birth, license plate numbers, and room numbers — for at least two years. ICE agents at one location in South Everett would circle Latino-sounding names on the guest list, according to the complaint.

In Arizona, according to MALDEF's complaint, ICE banged on motel-room doors and handcuffed guests in the parking lot after they checked in at two Motel 6 locations located in predominately Latino neighborhoods of Phoenix.

A husband and wife faced a harrowing arrest on June 29, 2017, according to the lawsuit, after they checked in at the Motel 6 on 52nd Drive to escape the heat of a broken air conditioner. ICE agents entered the room at 6 a.m. and demanded that the woman exit the bathroom, where she was attempting to change clothes after recovering from a recent surgery.

The agents then separated the pair at ICE's Phoenix field office, where they were able to speak to each other for only a few minutes. The man was released on a $3,000 bond, but the woman was sent to a detention center. According to MALDEF, she was deported on June 30, two days after checking into the Motel 6.

At the time of the lawsuit's filing, MALDEF's vice president for litigation, Nina Perales, told reporters that MALDEF would seek damages to compensate guests who had been unlawfully detained.

“The essence of this claim is that Motel 6 and its employees collaborated and acted together with ICE agents to interrogate, detain, and arrest the plaintiffs without a warrant and without any probable cause that they had committed a crime," Perales said.
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Joseph Flaherty is a staff writer at New Times. Originally from Wisconsin, he is a graduate of Middlebury College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Contact: Joseph Flaherty