Another week, another huge piece of news out of the Washington State Attorney General's Office:
Washington’s attorney general is suing Motel 6, saying the budget hotel disclosed the personal information of thousands of guests to federal immigration authorities in violation of state law.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Wednesday Motel 6’s “actions are disturbing and they are unlawful.” He said the motel divulged to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the names, dates of birth, license-plate numbers and room numbers of more than 9,000 guests at six sites throughout the state.
He said at least six guests were detained.
Last year, a reporter uncovered the fact that Motel 6 was sharing guest lists with ICE in Arizona last year. The company responded with a statement saying that the deputizing of Motel 6 staff was “implemented at the local level without the knowledge of senior management.”
But the practice wasn't confined to Arizona, according to Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Last year, his office replicated the investigation here in Washington and found that at least six Motel 6 locations (Bellingham, North Everett, South Everett, South Seattle, SeaTac and South Tacoma) had been sharing guest information with ICE since 2015. Every time Motel 6 shared a person's information counts as a violation of state law, according to Ferguson's office.
In a statement released after the filing of the lawsuit, Seattle City Council members Teresa Mosqueda and Lorena Gonzàlez called Motel 6's alleged actions "categorically wrong and exploitive."
"Seattle immigrants may seek to stay at a Motel 6 to flee domestic violence or avoid sleeping outside," the council members wrote in the statement. "As a Welcoming City, we are outraged by the blatantly discriminatory act of trolling guest information for Spanish surnames and for the disregard of the privacy of thousands of Motel 6 guests who did not consent to sharing their information with a third party."
Council members Mosqueda and Gonzàlez further urged immigrants and their allies to attend a February 3 "Know Your Rights" workshop with free legal help at Seattle's Office for Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.