INS v. Lopez-Mendoza

RESPONDENT: Lopez-Mendoza
LOCATION: Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida - Dade County

DOCKET NO.: 83-491
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 468 US 1032 (1984)
ARGUED: Apr 18, 1984
DECIDED: Jul 05, 1984

Mr. Andrew L. Frey - Argued the cause for the petitioner
Mary L. Heen - Argued the cause for the respondents

Facts of the case

Respondents Adan Lopez-Mendoza and Elias Sandoval-Sanchez, both Mexican citizens, were ordered deported by an immigration judge in separate proceedings. The orders were issued based upon each respondent's admission to Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officials that he had entered the country unlawfully. Lopez-Mendoza and Sandoval-Sanchez challenged the orders on grounds that their respective arrests by INS officials were illegal and in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Sandoval-Sanchez further moved to have his admission suppressed as fruit of an illegal arrest. (Lopez-Mendoza did not move to strike his admission from the record.) In each case, the presiding judge found the legality of the arrests irrelevant to the determination of the respondents' deportation status. On administrative appeal, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed the orders noting that deportation proceedings are civil actions and "[t]he mere fact of an illegal arrest has no bearing on a subsequent deportation hearing." The BIA also found application of the exclusionary rule in a deportation proceeding inappropriate. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed finding the respondents' arrests were illegal and the resulting admissions fruit of unlawful arrests.


Do the strictures of the Fourth Amendment and the exclusionary rule apply in deportation proceedings?

Media for INS v. Lopez-Mendoza

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 18, 1984 in INS v. Lopez-Mendoza

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments first this morning in Immigration and Naturalization Service against Lopez-Mendoza.

Mr. Frey, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Mr. Andrew L. Frey:

Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court.

The issue before the Court today is whether it should extend the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule heretofore applied by it only in the context of criminal prosecutions and quasi-criminal forfeiture proceedings to civil deportation hearings.

Respondents Lopez and Sandoval are Mexican nationals who entered the United States illegally nearly ten years ago.

Each was apprehended within a few months after his illegal entry by an INS agent at his place of employment, and each made admissions of his illegal alien status following his apprehension.

These admissions were utilized at the deportation hearings to establish that respondents were not U.S. citizens, a fact that I might say is virtually impossible for the Immigration Service to prove by other means in cases of persons who enter the United States without inspection, and these admissions formed the basis of the decision ordering their deportation.

They appealed to the Court of Appeals and an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit held that Sandoval's admission of his alien status was the fruit of an unlawful arrest.

As to respondent Lopez, it held that the record did not establish whether or not his arrest was unlawful.

It then turned to the question whether the exclusionary rule applies to deportation hearings, and concluding that it does, reversed the order of deportation with respect to Sandoval, and remanded for further proceedings with respect to Lopez.

Now, let me begin my discussion by saying--

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Mr. Frey, may I ask--

Mr. Andrew L. Frey:


William J. Brennan, Jr.:

--before you begin, respondent's brief has this statement.

"Contrary to the government's characterization of the decision below as extending the exclusionary rule to an entirely new category of cases and creating a new barrier to enforcement of immigration laws, it merely marks a return to long-standing former practice. "

"Until 1979, the INS performed its investigative and prosecutorial functions in a legal regime in which the exclusionary rule was thought to apply. "

It then goes on to say that really what you are asking is abandonment of the exclusionary rule after over 60 years of applicability.

What do you say about that?

Mr. Andrew L. Frey:

Well, I guess I have two things to say about that.

The first is that I am first addressing the question of this Court's jurisprudence and what it would mean in terms of this Court's jurisprudence to decide that the exclusionary rule is applicable to deportation proceedings, and as to that point, I think it is clear that it would be an extension in the sense that the Court has never applied the exclusionary rule to civil proceedings of any kind, and it has never applied the exclusionary rule to a non-punitive proceeding the purpose of which is to determine status.

So, from the standpoint of this Court's jurisprudence, while it is in a sense a question of semantics, I think it is fair for us to characterize a decision affirming as an extension.

Now, there is a second--

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Well, has there been a practice for 60 years of recognizing the exclusionary rule?

Mr. Andrew L. Frey:

--That is a point that I intend to address.

I do not think it has been a practice.

It has not been in any way a significant feature of deportation--

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

No, but has it been a practice at all--

Mr. Andrew L. Frey:

--Well, I am not sure--

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

--in deportation proceedings?

Mr. Andrew L. Frey:

--I am not sure how to answer that question.