The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund sued G6 Hospitality, the Carrollton-based parent company of Motel 6, in an Arizona federal court Tuesday afternoon. According to the suit, several of the company's hotels gave guests' names and personal information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2017, leading to multiple detentions and deportations.
On June 28, 2017, according to the suit, a woman identified in court documents as Jane N. checked into the chain's Phoenix West location with her husband while their home was being repaired. At check-in, Jane N.'s husband, John M., gave the clerk his Mexican passport as identification.
Early the next morning, the couple woke up to three ICE agents banging on their door. The agents questioned the couple, put them in handcuffs and took them to ICE's Phoenix field office. John M. received a notice to appear and was released after paying a $3,000 bond, but federal authorities deported Jane N. to Mexico the next day. Another man spent 30 days in ICE detention after being arrested while staying at the motel before he was able to raise the $7,500 in bail ICE wanted from him, according to the suit.
“It is in no company’s interests to target and to violate the rights of any of its customers,” Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF's president and general counsel, said Tuesday. “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.”
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MALDEF's lawsuit accuses G6 Hospitality of violating the civil rights of Jane N., John M. and six other plaintiffs, as well as additional guests who might come forward in the future. By forwarding their clients names to ICE, MALDEF lawyers say, the motels and the company broke federal laws banning discrimination based on national origin and conspired to violate the guests' equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment.
“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,” MALDEF staff attorney Andres Gallegos said. “Our clients now face being separated from their families simply because they rented a hotel room.”
In response to a request for an interview from the Observer, 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.”