The Third Circuit has determined that the exclusionary rule was appropriate to apply to constitutional violations committed by a police officer. The officer unlawfully prolonged a traffic stop to interrogate the occupants of a van about their immigration statuses. The court initially held that the exclusionary rule is not generally available in removal proceedings where state or local law officers have violated the Fourth Amendment.. However, an egregious or a widespread Fourth Amendment violation would be sufficient to trigger the application of the exclusionary rule in removal proceedings when the misconduct was committed by state or local law enforcement.

“First, as we determined above, Macke’s extension of the stop was unreasonable and in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Second, Petitioners’ allegations, if true, may show an egregious Fourth Amendment violation that would warrant application of the exclusionary rule because, as noted above, we specifically stated in Oliva-Ramos that ‘whether any seizures or arrests were based on race or perceived ethnicity’ was a consideration in determining whether an egregious Fourth Amendment violation had occurred. Through their own declarations and the declarations of other passengers, Petitioners claim that Macke detained them and ordered them to travel to the rest area because they “all look Hispanic.” Although the Government’s Forms I-213 assert that Petitioners ‘claimed to be’ citizens of other countries in their interactions with Macke, the declarations submitted by Petitioners simply state that they “did not have anything to give him” in response to his request for ‘immigration papers, work permit, visa, passport, and ID.’ In fact, Macke’s request, as alleged by Petitioners, supports their claim that Macke continued the stop because of the passengers’ Hispanic appearance. His demand for this type of documentation, prior to any interaction with the passengers in the rear of the van, shows an assumption on his part that the Petitioners and other passengers were not United States citizens, a conclusion he could have only come to based on their appearance.”

“Petitioners aver that they were refused water and food and were not allowed to use the bathroom or turn on the van’s air conditioning while they were detained by Macke. Depending on the actual evidence adduced, these facts could be considered evidence of coercion or use of force as part of the totality of the circumstances test.”

The full text of Yoc-Us v. Attorney General can be found here: