Saxbe v. Bustos

PETITIONER:William B. Saxbe, United Farm Workers Organizing Committee
RESPONDENT:Robert Bustos, et al.
LOCATION:U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

DOCKET NO.: 73-300
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 419 US 65 (1974)
ARGUED: Oct 17, 1974
DECIDED: Nov 25, 1974
GRANTED: Jan 14, 1974

Bruce J. Terris – for Robert Bustos, Cristobal Cardona and others
Mark L. Evans – for William Saxbe and others

Facts of the case

These are two consolidated cases involving the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) practice of allowing aliens from Canada and Mexico to immigrate daily or seasonally to the U.S. to work. The practice granted the aliens “special immigrant” status and authorized them to be “lawfully admitted for permanent residence” even though the workers did not intend to reside in the U.S. permanently. This “special” status, authorized under the Immigration and Nationality Act, exempted the workers from normal documentation requirements. The United Farmworkers Organizing committee sued for injunctive relief from the practice. The district court dismissed the case, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that special status was permissible for daily workers, but not for seasonal workers.


Is it proper for the INS to grant aliens who commute to the U.S. from Canada and Mexico the ability to be “lawfully admitted for permanent residence”?

Media for Saxbe v. Bustos

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – October 17, 1974 in Saxbe v. Bustos

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – November 25, 1974 in Saxbe v. Bustos

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in No. 73-300, Saxbe against Bustos together with 73-480, Cardona against Saxbe will be announced by Mr. Justice Douglas.

William O. Douglas:

These cases are here on certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and involve the construction of a rather obscure provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, pertains to its application to people who come over from Mexico or from Canada each day to work and return at night.

And also to those who would come over from Mexico or Canada to work for a season, like in a fruit harvest or wheat harvest, and return at the end of the season.

Whether they are non-immigrants in which within the meaning of the Act in which event there have to be a certificate of the Secretary of Labor that they’re not people available here to do that work.

Or if they are immigrants, then they can — having satisfied the other requirements of the Act can come without that certificate.

There was a conflict between the Ninth Circuit that held that seasonal and daily commuters were covered by the immigration provision of the Act.

And a ruling of the court below in this case had held if all daily commuters were covered, the seasonal commuters were not covered and therefore the seasonal workers would have to get a certificate from the Secretary of Labor.

We agreed with the Court of Appeals to the Ninth Circuit and we think that all — both daily and seasonal commuters are immigrants covered by that provision of the Act.

Therefore we affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the Court of Appeals which Mr. Justice White has filed a dissenting opinion in which Mr. Justice Brennan, Mr. Justice Marshall, and Mr. Justice Blackmun have joined.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Douglas.