INS v. Delgado
Annotate this Case
466 U.S. 210 (1984)
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U.S. Supreme Court
INS v. Delgado, 466 U.S. 210 (1984)
Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Delgado
Argued January 11, 1984
Decided April 17, 1984
466 U.S. 210
Acting pursuant to warrants issued on a showing of probable cause that numerous unidentified illegal aliens were employed at a garment factory, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) conducted two "factory surveys" of the workforce in search of illegal aliens. A third factory survey was conducted with the employer's consent at another garment factory. During each survey, which lasted from one to two hours, INS agents positioned themselves near the factory exits, while other agents moved systematically through the factory, approaching employees and, after identifying themselves, asking the employees from one to three questions relating to their citizenship. If an employee gave a credible reply that he was a United States citizen or produced his immigration papers, the agent moved on to another employee. During the survey, employees continued with their work and were free to walk around within the factory. Respondent employees -- who were United States citizens or permanent resident aliens and who had been questioned during the surveys -- and their union filed actions, consolidated in Federal District Court, alleging that the factory surveys violated their Fourth Amendment rights, and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The District Court granted summary judgment for the INS, but the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the surveys constituted a seizure of the entire workforces, and that the INS could not question an individual employee unless its agents had a reasonable suspicion that the employee was an illegal alien.
Held: The factory surveys did not result in the seizure of the entire workforces, and the individual questioning of the respondent employees by INS agents concerning their citizenship did not amount to a detention or seizure under the Fourth Amendment. Pp. 466 U. S. 215-221.
(a) Interrogation relating to one's identity or a request for identification by the police does not, by itself, constitute a Fourth Amendment seizure. Unless the circumstances of the encounter are so intimidating as to demonstrate that a reasonable person would have believed he was not free to leave if he had not responded, such questioning does not result in a detention under the Fourth Amendment. Pp. 466 U. S. 216-217.
(b) The entire workforces of the factories were not seized for the duration of the surveys here, even though INS agents were placed near
the exits of the factory sites. The record indicates that the agents' conduct consisted simply of questioning employees and arresting those they had probable cause to believe were unlawfully present in the factory. This conduct should not have given respondents, or any other citizens or aliens lawfully present in the factories, any reason to believe that they would be detained if they gave truthful answers to the questions put to them or if they simply refused to answer. If mere questioning did not constitute a seizure when it occurred inside the factory, it was no more a seizure when it occurred at the exits. Pp. 466 U. S. 217-219.
(c) Since there was no seizure of the workforces by virtue of the method of conducting the surveys, the issue of individual questioning could be presented only if one of the respondent employees had, in fact, been seized or detained, but their deposition testimony showed that none was. They may only litigate what happened to them, and their description of the encounters with the INS agents showed that the encounters were classic consensual encounters, rather than Fourth Amendment seizures. Pp. 466 U. S. 219-221.
REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, BLACKMUN, STEVENS, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 466 U. S. 221. POWELL, J., filed an opinion concurring in the result, post, p. 466 U. S. 221. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 466 U. S. 225.