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Case Basics
Docket No. 
United States
(Argued the cause for the United States)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
Facts of the Case 

Rene Martin Verdugo-Urquidez was a citizen and resident of Mexico. In cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Mexican police officers apprehended and transported him to the U.S. border, where he was arrested for various narcotics-related offenses. Following his arrest, a DEA agent sought authorization to search Verdugo-Urquidez's residences for evidence. The Director General of the Mexican Federal Judicial Police authorized the searches, but no search warrant from a U.S. magistrate was ever received. At trial, the district court granted Verdugo-Urquidez's motion to suppress the evidence on the ground that the search violated the Fourth Amendment to the Federal Constitution.


Does the Fourth Amendment apply to the search and seizure by United States agents of property that is owned by a nonresident alien and located in a foreign country?

Decision: 6 votes for United States, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 4: Fourth Amendment

No. The text of the Fourth Amendment concerns "the people," suggesting a concern with persons who are part of the national community, as contrasted with aliens without any substantial connection to the U.S. Moreover, extraterritorial aliens are not even entitled to rights under the Fifth Amendment, which speaks in the relatively more universal term of "person." And non-"fundamental" rights are not even guaranteed to inhabitants of unincorporated territories under U.S sovereign control, much less aliens. Therefore, any restrictions on searches and seizures of nonresident aliens and their foreign property must be imposed by the political branches through diplomatic understanding, treaty or legislation.

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UNITED STATES v. VERDUGO-URQUIDEZ. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1989/1989_88_1353>.
UNITED STATES v. VERDUGO-URQUIDEZ, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1989/1989_88_1353 (last visited August 25, 2015).
"UNITED STATES v. VERDUGO-URQUIDEZ," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1989/1989_88_1353.