Attorney Majid Foroozandeh Examines 4th Amendment Rights of Foreign Nationals

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Irvine immigration attorney Majid Foroozandeh asks and answers two critical questions about 4th Amendment rights as they pertain to foreign nationals and searches and seizures.

Immigration Attorney Majid Foroozandeh

At international borders it is a balancing act. That is our government’s interest in our national security pinned against 4th Amendment rights.

The 4th Amendment provides that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

“There are, however, two key questions that need to be addressed regarding the rights of foreign nationals under the 4th amendment,” said attorney Majid Foroozandeh, founder of the Law Offices of Foroozandeh, APC.

No. 1: Does a foreign national have standing (the right) to claim protection of the 4th Amendment at international borders?

“The 4th Amendment as was written does not segregate foreign nationals from nationals of the United States; hence, it is not constitutional to say it applies to this group of folks but not the next,” noted Foroozandeh. “Constitutional rights have evolved substantially, and if one wants to learn what rights are remaining, one has to read the Patriot Act (signed into law on May 26, 2011, by President George W. Bush), parts of which expired on June 1, 2015, and with the passage of the USA Freedom Act on June 2, 2015, those parts were restored till 2019.

“Constitutionally, a foreign national has the right to 4th Amendment protection, when one literally reads the language of the 4th Amendment. At the U.S. border it does not apply practically. Title 19 of the United States Code, Sections 482, 1467, 1496, 1581 and 1582, state that all persons, baggage, and other merchandise arriving in or leaving the United States are subject to inspection and search by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers. Various laws, including 8 U.S.C. 1357, 19 U.S.C. 482, 1581, 1582, enforced by CBP authorize such searches. According to the CBP, ‘the Supreme Court decisions have upheld the doctrine that CBP’s search authority is unique and does not violate the 4th Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.’ The logic being that this kind of search is not ‘unreasonable.’”

No. 2: Does a foreign national have expectation of privacy at international airports when coming to the U.S.?

Katz v. United States 389 U.S. 347 (1967) is the hinge pin of reasonable expectation of privacy. In Katz, the Supreme Court extended 4th Amendment protection to all areas where a person has reasonable expectation of privacy.

“At international borders it is a balancing act. That is our government’s interest in our national security pinned against 4th Amendment rights,” concluded Foroozandeh. “The Supreme Court repeatedly has confirmed the border search exception (to right of privacy) applies at international borders and their functional equivalent (airports/border checkpoints). The logic being we have to do this to protect our national interest, more or less. It is noteworthy to say, however, that our federal law provides federal agents the ability to do search and seizures within 100 miles of the border within the United States. But, one must keep in mind that the 4th Amendment protection is in full force and people do enjoy the same within the interior of the United States and its territories, as opposed to at international borders.”

About the Law Offices of Foroozandeh, APC
The Law Offices of Foroozandeh, APC is an Orange County-based law firm engaged in handling cases involving Civil and Federal litigation, Immigration, Criminal Law, Family Law, Personal Injury, Bankruptcy, Real Estate, Employment and Labor, Business and Contract issues. For more information, please call (949) 336-8505, or visit The law office is located at 9891 Irvine Center Drive, Suite 130, Irvine, CA 92618, and they represent clients throughout Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego Counties.

For media inquiries, please call 805.650.6121, ext. 361.

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