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Case Basics
Docket No. 
(Argued the cause for the respondents)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
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?

Decision: 5 votes for INS, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Exclusionary Rule (admissibility of evidence allegedly in violation of the Fourth Amendment)

No. In both criminal and civil proceedings, the "body" or identity of a defendant is never suppressible as fruit of an illegal arrest. This alone was sufficient basis to uphold Lopez-Mendoza's deportation order. Moreover, deportation proceedings are civil actions and the protections afforded defendants in the criminal context do not apply. Specifically, Sandoval- Sanchez's appeal to the exclusionary rule in his motion to suppress his admission fails because the purpose the exclusionary rule is designed to servedeterring official misconductis not served in the context of a deportation proceeding. First, the INS is only required to show identity and alienage to meet its burden in a deportation hearing. Since the defendant's body is not suppressible, the INS must only prove alienage, generally not a difficult task even absent a confession. Further, INS has its own comprehensive oversight program in place to monitor Fourth Amendment compliance internally. The exclusionary rule would do little to enhance these efforts. Finally, deportations hearings, unlike criminal trials, are designed to prevent the continued violation of the law. The social cost of releasing a defendant whose mere presence in the country puts him in continued violation of the law is too high to bear in light of the minimal benefits derived from application of the exclusionary rule in this context.

Cite this Page
INS v. LOPEZ-MENDOZA. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 27 August 2015. <>.
INS v. LOPEZ-MENDOZA, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 27, 2015).
"INS v. LOPEZ-MENDOZA," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 27, 2015,