Spero News

Latino advocacy group sues Motel 6 for cooperating with immigration authorities
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, an ethnic solidarity organization, sued G6 Hospitality on behalf of several guests who are n ...
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
by Martin Barillas

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, an ethnic solidarity organization, sued G6 Hospitality on behalf of several guests who are now facing deportation after a raid by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2017. The suit was filed against the parent company of Motel 6 in an Arizona federal court on Tuesday. The lawsuit alleges that several hotels in the chain provided the names and personal information to ICE.

According to the lawsuit, On June 28, 2017, a woman identified in court documents as Jane N. checked into the chain's Phoenix West location on June 28, 2017 with her husband. While checking in the hotel, Jane N.'s husband, John M., gave the clerk his Mexican passport as identification.

On the morning of the next day, three ICE agents knocked on the door of the couple’s room. Aftering questioning them, the ICE agents cuffed and arrested the couple and took them to Phoenix ICE field office. John M. received a notice to appear in court, and was released after paying a $3,000 bond. However, Jane N. was deported to Mexico on the next day. In a similar instance, another man was detained by ICE for 30 days after being arrested at the hotel before he was obtain $7,500 in bail ICE wanted, read the suit. 

In February 2017, Motel 6 directed its employees to provide guest registration information to ICE agents, or to "act for the benefit of law enforcement" when approached by ICE agents, according to the complaint.

"As was the plan, no arrest or search warrants were ever obtained by ICE for any guests at any Motel 6 locations," according to the complaint. "Instead, without judicial or administrative warrants, ICE agents supported by Motel 6 and its employees, unlawfully detained, interrogated and arrested individuals without cause or consent and in violation of guests' Constitutional rights."

“It is in no company’s interests to target and to violate the rights of any of its customers,” said MALDEF President Thomas A. Saenz, according to a statement. “If business incentives prove insufficient to deter poor practices, there are also powerful legal consequences for engaging in the kind of anti-consumer activity alleged here.” 

According to MALDEF, “All eight Latino plaintiffs were detained, and in one case deported, after presenting official identification while checking in to two Phoenix-area hotels.” 

“This lawsuit should serve as a warning to companies that attempt to enforce immigration laws by conspiring with the federal government to violate the civil rights of their guests,” said Andres Gallegos, a staff attorney at MALDEF. “Our clients now face being separated from their families simply because they rented a hotel room.” 

MALDEF's lawsuit accuses G6 Hospitality of violating the civil rights of its clients by forwarding their information to federal immigration authorities, and breaking federal laws that ban discrimination based on national origin and conspired to violate the guests' equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment.

The lawsuit claims that Motel 6 violated the following:

  • Federal law barring discrimination on the basis of national origin and alienage.
  • Federal law prohibiting conspiracy to deprive an individual of equal protection under the law.
  • Federal law prohibiting conspiracy to violate Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
  • Arizona law prohibiting intrusion of privacy.
  • Arizona law prohibiting breach of contract.

G6 Hospitality issued the following statement:

  • “In September, Motel 6 issued a directive to every one of our more than 1,400 locations, making it clear that they are prohibited from voluntarily providing daily guests lists to Immigration and Customs Enforcement," the statement says. "While we cannot comment on specific pending litigation, we take this issue and the privacy of our guests very seriously.”

Similarly, Washington state attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a complaint on January 3, accusing Motel 7 of violating state privacy and discrimination laws by providing to ICE agents some 9,000 names, including some subsequently detained persons. 

Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

Copyright © 2019 Spero