Motel 6 Gave Guest Lists to Immigration Agents in Washington State, Lawsuit Says

When the hotel chain Motel 6 acknowledged in September that two of its Arizona motels had helped the government detain and deport some guests, the company said that the practice had been “implemented at the local level.”

But a lawsuit filed on Wednesday by Washington State suggests that it may have been more widespread.

The suit, filed in King County Superior Court in Seattle, alleges that hotel employees in that state routinely gave immigration agents personal information about guests, including their names, birth dates and license plate numbers. At least 9,000 names were turned over, according to the suit, though only six were known to have been detained.

Washington’s attorney general, Robert W. Ferguson, said that he began an inquiry after reading reports about the activity in Arizona, which prompted widespread condemnation and calls to boycott the hotel chain. One of those articles quoted an immigration lawyer who said he had heard about the same thing happening in Washington.

“Motel 6 implied this was a local problem,” Mr. Ferguson said in a statement. “We have found that is not true. Washingtonians have a right to privacy, and protection from discrimination. I will hold Motel 6 accountable and uncover the whole story of their disturbing conduct.”

As part of Mr. Ferguson’s investigation, Motel 6 initially provided information about 11 of its 26 locations in Washington, six of which, the company said, had been assisting immigration agents. As the inquiry continues, the number of names turned over, and people detained as a result, will most likely go up, Mr. Ferguson said.

So far, his office has requested information about two years of hotel practices through September, when the company, after the reports from Arizona, introduced a nationwide policy barring employees from providing guest names to law enforcement unless they were compelled to.

By Caitlin Dickerson for THE NEW YORK TIMES
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