According to court documents, for over two and a half years, Motel 6 employees provided guest information to Immigration and Customers Enforcement agents. With the information provided, officers screened anyone listed with a Hispanic-sounding last name. Some of the identifiers obtained include license plate numbers, full names, birthdays, and room numbers. While some individuals were simply “looked into,” others were detained or arrested. These guest lists were willingly handed over without warrants or subpoenas. As a result, the civil rights activist group Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a class action lawsuit in January 2018.
The claim was filed in court on behalf of the Motel 6 guests whose private information was compromised. This includes Motel 6 guests in two Arizona locations and in six Washington state locations. In November 2018, the two parties involved in the Arizona disputes came to an agreeable solution, however, a judge rejected the proposed settlement terms. After further deliberations, Motel 6 said it would pay $10 million to end the class action, as well as follow a 3-year stipulation to not give guest information to immigration authorities without proper court seizing documentation like a warrant or subpoena. Additional training would also be provided to employees on the sensitive nature and importance of guest confidentiality.
This month, a federal judge approved the $10 million payout, which would be used to compensate about 2,000 claimants. About $75 would be awarded to those whose privacy was compromised but did not experience any consequences or negative outcomes. Between $5,075 and $200,000 would be awarded to those whose situations escalated to arrests or removal proceedings. Another factor that determined the level of payout was if there were children involved. Any of the settlement funds not paid to former individual guests would be distributed between various groups, such as the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, the National Immigrant Justice Center, and TheDream.US.