Washington State Is Persecuting Motel 6 for Cooperating With ICE

Washington’s attorney general has filed suit against Motel 6. Has the discount hotel chain been stiffing its customers on room rates?

No, it simply cooperated with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when the agency was investigating hotel guests. According to the Washington authorities, that’s a violation of the common law, the state constitution, the Washington Law Against Discrimination and the Washington Consumer Protection Act.

The Evergreen State is indignant because it claims Motel 6 was actively engaged in national origin discrimination. But the legal eagles in Washington have it all wrong. They’ve essentially filed a bogus Fourth Amendment search and seizure claim dressed up as a discriminatory business practice and a trade violation.

Let’s examine each of these ridiculous claims individually:

  • Motel 6 wasn’t “discriminating” against anyone. It was actually ICE that was distinguishing among guests on the basis of national origin, consistent with its legal authority. The Constitution, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and a host of other laws explicitly differentiate between those whose national origin is American, and all others. That distinction is the very basis of citizenship in the modern nation state and it is recognized everywhere in the world. (Except, apparently, in Washington.)
  • There’s no valid Fourth Amendment search and seizure issue either. Washington seems to have deliberately attempted to undermine the governing precedent through a provision in its Consumer Protection Act that purports to give guests a protected privacy interest in hotel records. But the Supreme Court has held otherwise:
    • In United States v. Miller, the Court held that there is no legitimate expectation of privacy in information voluntarily conveyed to a company and exposed to its employees in the ordinary course of business.
    • In Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, the Supreme Court firmly held that any party with a Fourth Amendment privacy interest may consent to a search, obviating the need for a subpoena or warrant.
    • In City of Los Angeles v. Patel, the Court specifically noted that hotel operators may consent to a search of their registration records.
    • The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution establishes that, in cases of conflict, federal law takes precedence over state law and even state constitutions. This means that states can’t attempt to bind the federal government to a particular course of action via state law – as Washington is attempting to do in this case.

Accordingly, the claim that Motel 6 should be penalized for cooperating with a lawful exercise of federal government authority is beyond absurd – it’s offensive. And it appears that Washington’s attorney general is targeting the hotel chain solely because its views on immigration enforcement differ from that of the state’s largely open-borders government.

Before Washington is allowed to further pursue its open rebellion against federal authority – at the expense of law abiding corporations – the federal Department of Justice should attempt to intervene and preserve the interests of justice. And Motel 6 should tell Washington that it plans to leave the light on, for ICE and any other policing agency that is lawfully going about its assigned business.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    After Motel 6 wins its suit it should sue the state of Wa. in FEDERAL court for 100 million bucks-I would give it to them.

  2. avatar

    Motel 6 is complying with Federal Immigration Laws, the Polititions in Olympia need to do the same

  3. avatar

    So Motel 6 reports illegal alens. You are supose to report liiegal activities. What if it was people making and selling dope. Or making bombs or planing to kill a lot of people. Was they to not report anything ? Obama isnt in office any more . Heres one thing no ones talks about. For 6 years illegals are being busses in to states. To get on social security with out paying a dime into it. They even get pass ports and food stamps and some states they get a house from dhs and hud. No one says anything about that. All the corruption that has gone on in Whshington DC. In the past 8 years. They keep that u der a lid. Look We have a good man as a President now. He is doing a lot of good things. He dont take to being pushed he pushes back. That is what a good President is to do. You think J.F. K. Didn’t take any crap. Trump don’t either.