The Motel 6 hotel chain has agreed to a $7.6 million settlement with a group of individuals who sued the company earlier this year for disclosing their personal information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement while they stayed at the hotel.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund sued G6 Hospitality, the Carrollton-based parent company of Motel 6, in an Arizona federal court in January. According to the suit, several of the company's hotels gave guests' names and personal information to ICE 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.
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MALDEF's lawsuit accused 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 said, 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.
After the Observer's sister paper, the Phoenix New Times, broke the story of Motel 6's cooperation with ICE, the chain prohibited employees from voluntarily sharing guest information with ICE. According to the settlement, the chain will continue the prohibition, in addition to compensating those whose lives were affected as a result of the hotel's actions.
"Motel 6 fully recognizes the seriousness of the situation and accepts full responsibility for both compensating those who were harmed and taking the necessary steps to ensure that we protect the privacy of our guests," Motel 6 and MALDEF said in a joint statement issued this week.
If the settlement is approved by the court in which the lawsuit was filed, up to $5.6 million of the settlement will be paid to those plaintiffs who faced ICE removal proceedings after Motel 6 shared their personal information. Guests who were questioned by immigration authorities will receive part of $1 million, and the remaining $1 million in the settlement pool will go to those who had their information shared with immigration authorities between Feb. 1, 2017, and Nov. 2, 2018.