January 3, 2018 / 11:57 PM / in 7 months

Washington state sues Motel 6 for sharing guest data with immigration agents

(Reuters) - Motel 6 was sued on Wednesday by Washington state’s attorney general, who accused the discount hotel chain of illegally providing guest lists to U.S. immigration authorities, knowing of their interest in people with “Latino-sounding” names.

FILE PHOTO - Washington state's attorney general Bob Ferguson (C) speaks to the media next to Washington state solicitor general Noah Purcell (R) outside the U.S. federal courthouse in downtown Seattle February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Dan Levine/File Photo

Attorney General Bob Ferguson said six Motel 6 locations in Washington provided names, birth dates, license plates and other personal information belonging to at least 9,151 guests to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from June 2015 to May 2017.

Ferguson said Motel 6 knew ICE used guest lists to target people based on their national origin, and that the disclosures led to detentions of at least six people.

Motel 6 is controlled by private equity firm Blackstone Group LP (BX.N), which bought the brand in 2012.

The chain’s management company, G6 Hospitality, said it ordered its more than 1,400 U.S. and Canadian locations in September to stop voluntarily giving guest lists to ICE agents.

“Motel 6 takes this matter very seriously, and we have and will continue to fully cooperate with the Office of the State Attorney General,” G6 said in a statement on Wednesday.

Ferguson said Motel 6’s practices in Washington mirrored those in Arizona, citing a Sept. 13, 2017 report in the Phoenix New Times that ICE had arrested 20 people at Motel 6s there from February to August after getting similar tips.

He also said Motel 6 trained new employees to cooperate with ICE agents, despite a company policy of “safeguarding the privacy of the personal information that we gather.”

The lawsuit filed with the King County Superior Court in Seattle seeks an injunction against similar conduct, and civil fines of up to $2,000 per violation of state consumer protection and anti-discrimination laws.

“Motel 6 implied this was a local problem,” Ferguson, a Democrat, said in a statement. “We have found that is not true.”

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom Brown

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