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Name: United States v. Romero-Bustamente
Case #: 02-10414
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/31/2003
Subsequent History: None

Border patrol agents observed several individuals jump the border fence and enter Romero’s property. Agents went to Romero’s property and he gave consent for them to search the house. They found nothing in the house, but found two undocumented Mexican nationals in the backyard, hiding behind a shed. The officers arrested Romero. Following the denial of his suppression motion, Romero pleaded guilty to harboring illegal aliens. The appellate court reversed the denial of the suppression motion. Romero did not give consent to search the backyard, nor could officers see the illegal aliens from their position in the house. 8 USC section 1357 (a)(3) permits border patrol agents to have access to private lands, but not dwellings, for the purpose of patrolling the border. Here, the backyard fell within the curtilage of the home, and therefore was not authorized by section 1357 (a)(3). Absent consent or a warrant, the search was therefore not lawful.