MALDEF Sues Motel 6 for Violating Rights of Guests in Arizona

(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.

Motel 6 Corporate Statement – In response to AZ lawsuit 1/23

“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 (ICE). While we cannot comment on specific pending litigation, we take this issue and the privacy of our guests very seriously.”

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.

“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 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.

Motel 6 Corporate Statement – In response to AZ lawsuit 1/23

“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 (ICE). While we cannot comment on specific pending litigation, we take this issue and the privacy of our guests very seriously.”

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.

“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.