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Immigration Law

Cert. Pet. Filed in CA5 Internal Checkpoint Case: Rynearson v. Lands

CA5 majority: "[W]e conclude that these governmental officials, at worst, made reasonable but mistaken judgments when presented with an unusually uncooperative person, unusual at least in the facts described in any of the caselaw."

Dissent: "At a fixed interior immigration checkpoint approximately sixty-seven miles from the United States–Mexico border, United States Air Force officer Richard Rynearson presented four forms of government-issued identification—including official and personal U.S. passports—to show that he is a United States citizen. Yet Agent Lands refused to examine the passports and Agent Perez, rather than simply scrutinizing the passports, asked Rynearson to identify his commanding officer and then made Rynearson wait while he placed phone calls to Rynearson’s employer. Because the law is clearly established that immigration officials violate the Fourth Amendment when they continue to detain a traveler beyond the time reasonably necessary to investigate his citizenship status, I respectfully dissent. ...

[W]hile he provided the information needed to prove his citizenship, Rynearson explained several times that he would not indulge the officers’ commands when he thought that they exceeded the limited scope of the immigration checkpoint inquiry. Standing on one’s rights is not an “unorthodox tactic[].” It is a venerable American tradition. ...

Far more than simply ask Rynearson to give the limited information that the Supreme Court allows officers to demand at fixed border checkpoints—“a response to a brief question or two and possibly the production of a document evidencing a right to be in the United States,” Martinez–Fuerte, 428 U.S. at 558—Agents Lands and Perez were dissatisfied with four forms of government-issued identification and a verbal affirmation of United States citizenship. All that remained after Rynearson’s offer to surrender his passports was to authenticate them. On the present record, no reasonable officer—in light of Martinez–Fuerte, Machuca–Barrera, and Portillo–Aguirre—would believe that he was entitled to take an additional twenty-three minutes while ignoring the passports and placing phone calls to Rynearson’s employer." - Rynearson v. USA, Feb. 26, 2015, unpub.

Supreme Court docket, No. 15-168

"Rynearson posted a video of the incident on the internet, and the defendants attached it as an exhibit to their motion to dismiss. The video, which is divided into four parts and entitled “Full Video – Border Patrol Incident,” appears at the following links:

Part One:
Part Two:
Part Three:
Part Four: "