Motel 6 has agreed to pay $10 million to settle claims with former guests targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents for deportation because of their “Latino-sounding names.”
The deal is an amended settlement to resolve a case filed on behalf of unidentified victims of ICE interrogation and deportation after Motel 6 shared its guest lists with federal agents. Some of the 1,400 branches of the discount hotel chain allowed ICE agents to bang on doors during early morning hours to question and detain guests.
A November deal to resolve the litigation was panned by an Arizona federal judge in January who questioned whether either side could plausibly identify any of the victims, some of whom may be undocumented immigrants. Among U.S. District Judge David Campbell’s concerns was whether unnamed plaintiffs would be willing to identify themselves to collect damages as low as $50.
“I’ve got John Doe names, but I don’t know who these people are,” Campbell said on Jan. 29 during a settlement hearing. “I don’t even know if they’re still in the U.S. Are they in the removal process? If so, do we know where they’re located? How do we get money to them? I don’t know how effective this method will be in compensating them.”
The new settlement increases minimum compensation to $75 while increasing maximum damages to $200,000 from $100,000 for those victims enduring deportation proceedings. Should the parties fail to identify the John and Jane Does represented in the case, unclaimed damages will be awarded to one of four non-profit organizations which offer legal aid to Latino residents in the U.S.
Campbell will consider the proposal during a hearing on July 19 in Phoenix.
In one case, a woman and her husband checked into a Motel 6 on June 28, 2017, seeking air-conditioned relief from Phoenix temperatures surpassing 100 degrees. The next morning, the couple was awakened by immigration agents pounding on the door and subsequently detained. Two days later, the wife was deported to Mexico.
Motel 6 said the settlement will help ensure the company never engages in these practices again. “Motel 6 fully recognizes the seriousness of the situation and accepts full responsibility for both compensating those who were harmed and taking the necessary steps to ensure that we protect the privacy of our guests,” the company said in a statement.
The case in Arizona is one among a pair filed in the last year accusing Motel 6 of violating state and federal statues while turning over guest records to federal agents. In Washington State, the company was sued by Attorney General Bob Ferguson for opening its doors to ICE after sharing its guest lists. Motel 6 has agreed to pay $12 million to settle those claims.
The cases are Unknown Party v. Motel 6, 2:18-cv-00242, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix); and Washington v. Motel 6, 18-2-00283, King County Superior Court, Washington state (Seattle).
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