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Dartmouth Law Journal


The protection of the U.S.-Mexico border has become a priority for politicians and government officials alike. However, the protection of people􀂶s rights near the border has been largely ignored. Due to the Fourth Amendment􀂶s border search exception, customs officials and border patrol agents may use lower standards for suspicion in conducting searches and seizures of people in the border region. In determining whether a search or seizure is reasonable, the Fourth Amendment requires balancing of the degree to which the government intrudes on a person􀂶s privacy against the government􀂶s interest in conducting the search. This Article analyzes the changes in enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border and their effect on what constitutes reasonableness for searches and seizures in the border region. It concludes that the changes in border and immigration enforcement enhance governmental intrusions upon privacy while the government􀂶s interests in enforcement remain largely unchanged. Therefore, in reevaluating reasonableness at the border, courts would likely hold that the government􀂶s interests do not afford the degree to which the government is intruding on privacy. While the Fourth Amendment itself has not changed, what constitutes reasonableness at the U.S.-Mexico border has.

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Dartmouth College

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