Phoenix, AZ– Motel 6 violated the civil rights of Latino immigrants and other guests by alerting federal authorities that they had rented rooms at two Phoenix locations, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in the name of eight plaintiffs affected by the motel practice.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona by MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), says the hotel’s practice of voluntarily giving Latino guests’ personal information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents without a warrant violates federal and state civil rights laws barring discrimination based on national origin, and protections against unreasonable searches. The lawsuit also alleges that the motel violated state consumer fraud protections.
“It is in no company’s interests to target and to violate the rights of any of its customers,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “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.”
All eight Latino plaintiffs were detained, and in one case deported, after presenting official identification while checking in to two Phoenix-area hotels.
In one case, a mother of four U.S.-born children, ages 2 to 11, took refuge with her family at the Motel 6 Black Canyon in June 2017 to escape the blistering Arizona heat in their apartment, which lacks air conditioning. During check-in, she presented an official Mexican document known as a matricular consular for identification. Before dawn on the following morning, they were awakened by a loud banging on their motel room door by men who identified themselves as “police.” They were, in fact, not police, but ICE agents. The agents threatened to separate the mother from her children but ultimately instructed her to report to ICE within days. She was subsequently placed in deportation proceedings.
In another case, a couple who were having repairs done on their Phoenix home checked into the Motel 6 Phoenix West in July 2017. The man presented his Mexican passport for identification. The next morning they were confronted by three ICE agents who entered their motel room and questioned the couple, who were then fingerprinted and placed in handcuffs. They were taken to the ICE Phoenix Field Office, where they were separated, fingerprinted, and photographed. The man was placed in deportation proceedings and released on bond. The woman was deported the next day and remains in Mexico.
“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,” said Andres Gallegos, staff attorney at MALDEF. “Our clients now face being separated from their families simply because they rented a hotel room.”
Earlier this month, Washington State officials sued the hotel chain alleging the company violated state consumer protection and anti-discrimination laws.
MALDEF is suing the hotel’s parent company, G6 Hospitality LLC, which owns and operates the two hotels, and is seeking class certification on behalf of all immigrants who stayed at Motel 6 locations in Arizona. The legal claims include violations of:
- Federal law barring discrimination on the basis of national origin and alienage.
- Federal law prohibiting conspiracy to deprive an individual of equal protection under the law.
- Federal law prohibiting conspiracy to violate Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
- Arizona law prohibiting intrusion of privacy.
- Arizona law prohibiting breach of contract.