Undocumented Criminal Procedure


For more than two decades, criminal procedure scholars have debated what role, if any, race should play in the context of policing. Although a significant part of this debate has focused on racial profiling, or the practice of employing race as basis for suspicion, criminal procedure scholars have paid little attention to the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has sanctioned this practice in a number of cases at the intersection of immigration law and criminal procedure. Notwithstanding that these cases raise similar questions to those at the heart of legal and policy debates about racial profiling, they are largely overlooked in the criminal procedure scholarship on race and policing. We refer to these cases as the undocumented cases. While there are a number of doctrinal and conceptual reasons that explain their marginalization, none of these reasons are satisfying given the importance of the undocumented cases to debates about race, racial profiling, and the Fourth Amendment. The undocumented cases import a pernicious aspect of immigration exceptionalism into Fourth Amendment doctrine—namely, that the government can legitimately employ race when it is enforcing immigration laws. In so doing, the cases constitutionalize racial profiling against Latinos and unduly expand governmental power and discretion beyond the borders of immigration enforcement. This weakens the Fourth Amendment and enables racial profiling in the context of ordinary police investigations.

By uclalaw