LANDON V. PLASENCIA, 459 U. S. 21 (1982)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Landon v. Plasencia, 459 U.S. 21 (1982)

Landon v. Plasencia

No. 81-129

Argued October 5, 1982

Decided November 15, 1982

459 U.S. 21


Section 235 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (Act) permits the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to examine "all aliens" who seek "admission or readmission to" the United States and empowers immigration officers to take evidence concerning the privilege of any persons suspected of being an alien "to enter, reenter, pass through, or reside" in the United States, and to detain for further inquiry "every alien" who does not appear "to be clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to" enter. Under § 236(a), if an alien is so detained, the officer is directed to determine whether the alien "shall be allowed to enter or shall be excluded and deported." Following an exclusion hearing, the INS denied respondent, a permanent resident alien, admission to the United States when she returned from a brief visit to Mexico that involved an attempt to smuggle aliens across the border. Subsequently, respondent filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Federal District Court, seeking release from the exclusion order and contending that she was entitled to have the question of her admissibility litigated in a deportation proceeding where she would be entitled to procedural protections and substantive rights not available in exclusion proceedings. The District Court vacated the INS's decision, instructing it to proceed against respondent, if at all, only in deportation proceedings. The Court of Appeals affirmed.


1. The INS had statutory authority to proceed in an exclusion hearing to determine whether respondent was attempting to "enter" the United States and whether she was excludable. The language and history of the Act both clearly reflect a congressional intent that, whether or not the alien is a permanent resident, admissibility shall be determined in an exclusion hearing. Nothing in the language or history suggests that respondent's status as a permanent resident entitles her to a suspension of the exclusion hearing or requires the INS to proceed only through a deportation hearing. Pp. 459 U. S. 25-28.

2. Contrary to the view of the Court of Appeals, it was not "circular" and "unfair" to allow the INS to litigate the question of "entry" in exclusion

Page 459 U. S. 22

proceedings simply because that question also went to the merits of respondent's admissibility. Nor did the use of exclusion proceedings violate either the "scope" or "spirit" of Rosenberg v. Fleuti, 374 U. S. 449, where the Court held that an "innocent, casual, and brief excursion" by a resident alien outside this country's borders would not subject him to the consequences of an "entry" on his return. Pp. 459 U. S. 28-32.

3. Although, under the circumstances, respondent is entitled to due process in her exclusion hearing, the case will be remanded to the Court of Appeals to consider whether she was accorded due process, because the factors relevant to due process analysis have not been adequately presented here to permit an assessment of the sufficiency of the hearing. Pp. 459 U. S. 32-37.

637 F.2d 1286, reversed and remanded.

O'CONNOR, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and BRENNAN, WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part,post, p. 459 U. S. 37.

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