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Claims process opens in $12M Motel 6 settlement

The claims process in a $12 million settlement is now open for more than 100,000 guests whose information was handed over by Motel 6 to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Wednesday that guests who stayed at one of seven Motel 6 locations in the state between Jan. 1, 2015, and Sept. 17, 2017, may be eligible for restitution.

The locations are Bellingham, North Everett, South Everett, South Seattle, South Tacoma and two at SeaTac.

“Motel 6 violated the privacy rights of tens of thousands of Washingtonians without their knowledge or consent and paid $12 million to avoid facing my legal team in trial,” Ferguson said in a press release Wednesday. “We want to ensure everyone whose privacy was violated by Motel 6’s unlawful conduct receives some restitution, which is why we’re encouraging eligible individuals to file claims.”

The settlement was reached in April, ending a lawsuit filed by the attorney general’s office against Motel 6. Ferguson’s office had found that the Motel 6 locations had shared guest lists with ICE on a daily basis without requiring a warrant. Guest list information included names, driver’s license numbers and birth dates.

He alleged that Motel 6 violated Washington’s consumer protection and discrimination laws when it provided the guest lists to ICE, which then targeted Latino-sounding names, resulting in at least nine Washingtonians being detained or deported.

Vancouver’s Ramon Flores-Garcia — a Mexican citizen who had been living without documentation in the United States for about 20 years — was detained by ICE agents while working in Everett on Valentine’s Day 2017. He was deported that August to Puerto Vallarta, leaving behind his wife of 15 years and seven children, all of whom are legal U.S. residents.

Flores, then 43, was staying at one of the two Motel 6 locations in Everett at the time. His family previously told The Columbian that ICE agents stopped him a few blocks away from the motel. After Flores was deported, his family lost their housing in Vancouver and later moved to the San Diego area to be closer to him.

“Don’t think twice about it — submit your claims to demonstrate that this is wrong and we shall not tolerate this,” Flores said in a press release issued by Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. “We’re all human beings; we are worth the same and deserve respect. The time has come: When justice comes, it comes. We must come together and become stronger as a community.”

The two third-party organizations handling the claims process — Centro de los Derechos de Migrante, Inc., and A.B. Data of Milwaukee, Wis. — will not turn over information they receive to immigration authorities.

The center is a binational migrant’s rights nonprofit in Mexico that is conducting outreach there and in the U.S. to investigate claims.

“Lives were permanently damaged, and families were torn apart. These egregious violations against equity, dignity and privacy have no place in our communities,” Evy Pena, the center’s communications director, said in the press release. “Our goal is to make sure that every guest whose rights were violated — regardless of immigration status or where they are — gets justice.”

As part of the settlement, Motel 6 will no longer provide guest information to ICE without a warrant or other lawful basis and will provide employee training.

“What’s striking and beautiful is despite everything, they’re trying to stay together and keep their family united. I think that’s what’s most heartbreaking about this case,” Pena said of the Flores family in a phone interview Wednesday. “This isn’t about Motel 6. This is about the communities. This is about the families that were torn apart. Hopefully, this will send a message to companies that they can’t get way with racism.”

To file a claim online or for more information on the claims process, visit www.WashingtonMotel6Settlement.com, or call 1-877-307-7268 in the U.S., 01-800-681-6519 from Mexico or WhatsApp +1 414-708-0437. Claim forms are available in English and Spanish. They must be submitted by Dec. 31. Claim forms can also be submitted through the mail or WhatsApp.

People who were affected by Motel 6’s practices will receive a letter and claim form in the mail at the address the company had on file when they stayed there. The letter contains details of the resolution and how to submit a claim.

“The amount of restitution a guest receives will vary. Guests whose information Motel 6 shared with ICE, but who suffered no further consequences, are still eligible for compensation. Guests who faced questioning, arrest or deportation will receive more restitution for the serious harms they suffered as a result of Motel 6’s actions,” Ferguson’s press release states.


Source: https://www.columbian.com

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