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Deal struck to settle discrimination suit against Motel 6

This Sept. 14, 2017 photo shows a Motel 6 in Phoenix. (Anita Snow / Associated Press)
This Sept. 14, 2017 photo shows a Motel 6 in Phoenix. (Anita Snow / Associated Press)
By Jacques Billeaud Associated Press

PHOENIX – Motel 6 has tentatively agreed to settle a lawsuit that alleges it discriminated against some Latino customers at two Phoenix locations by giving their whereabouts and personal information to immigration agents who later arrested at least seven guests.

The lawsuit alleges Motel 6 had a corporate policy or practice of giving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement information that guests provided at check-in. It also accused Motel 6 of providing such information without requiring authorities to get a warrant or without having a reasonable suspicion that crimes were being committed.

Details of the tentative deal, revealed Friday in court records, haven’t been publicly released. Lawyers said they need until mid-August to turn in the settlement paperwork. Motel 6 has agreed in principle to settle the lawsuit, the deal is subject to the approval of a federal judge.

Don Bivens, an attorney representing Motel 6, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which filed the lawsuit in January, didn’t immediately return a call Monday morning seeking comment on the tentative settlement.

The national budget motel chain said in September that its Phoenix employees will no longer work with immigration authorities after the Phoenix New Times reported that workers were providing guests’ names to agents who later arrested 20 people on immigration charges.

In a tweet at the time, Motel 6 said: “This was implemented at the local level without the knowledge of senior management.”

Two weeks before the case was filed in Arizona, the Washington state attorney general sued the chain, saying it had violated a state consumer protection law by providing the private information of thousands of guests to immigration agents without a warrant.

The chain has said it had told its more than 1,400 locations that they were prohibited from voluntarily providing guest lists to immigration authorities.

The Arizona lawsuit was filed in federal court on behalf of eight unnamed Latinos who stayed at two Motel 6 locations in the city during June and July 2017. All but one of the eight was arrested.

ICE agents visited some of the guests at their motel rooms a day after they showed passports, driver’s licenses or identification cards issued by the Mexican government to Motel 6 employees, according to the lawsuit.

As a result, one woman was deported from the United States, while a man spent 30 days in a detention center until he could raise a $7,500 bond. In two instances, ICE agents laughed when guests asked them whether Motel 6 had provided their personal information, the lawsuit said.

It said the eight guests had a reasonable expectation that their information would not be shared with federal authorities and alleged that the discrimination was made because of their race or national origin.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement wasn’t targeted in the lawsuit. The agency had no immediate comment Monday on the tentative settlement.

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