Things That Matter

Border Patrol Murdered A 15-Year-Old Boy In Mexico And Now The Supreme Court Will Hear The Case

The Supreme Court of the United States will hear a Mexican family’s case. In 2010, Sergio Hernandez was murdered by a United States border patrol agent — on Mexican soil along the southern border. His parents want to sue the man who shot and killed their teenage son, Jesus Mesa. 

SCOTUS will hear the case to decide if the family can sue, which will just begin the beginning of an uphill battle as the family will still have to prove Sergio’s constitutional rights were violated. Mesa, on the other hand, has claimed immunity as a government officer at work. He argues that there is no law that makes him liable and that foreigners murdered on foreign soil cannot sue U.S. officers for damages that occur abroad. 

Sergio Hernandez is killed by a U.S. border patrol agent in 2010.

The 15-year-old was shot to death by the agent as he hid behind a pillar in Mexico, according to CNN. Hernandez was hanging out with friends on a cement culvert that separates El Paso, Texas from Cuidad Juarez, Mexico. 

His parents claim he was playing a game where you cross the border, touch a fence, then run back onto Mexican soil. They believe Mesa arrived during the game and fatally shot their son. 

According to Messa, the boy was throwing rocks at him and he shot him when Hernandez when he refused to stop. The Justice Department did not bring a criminal charge against Mesa in 2012. 

“I want justice. This officer cannot be allowed to continue, because there’ll be another young victim, then another and another,” Maria Guereca told NPR in 2017

According to El Paso Times, the shooting was recorded on a video with a cellphone. There was a great public outcry, including protests in 2010. 

“We are very concerned about the message and the precedent it is sending throughout the border and the nation,” Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights said. “It might be telling us that the actions by the Border Patrol, not only mistreatment and killings, go unpunished and there is no accountability.”

Hernandez’s family says his constitutional rights were violated.

According to Quartz, the family believes his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unconstitutional governmental searches and seizures was violated — his death being the “seizure” in this case.  

The first time the family tried to have their case heard by SCOTUS it was remanded to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled that the family could not sue citing “special factors” like national security and diplomatic concerns. However, the family petitioned again and got it. They argued that suing the agent would not challenge law enforcement policies, immigration law or affect the United States’ diplomatic relationship with Mexico. 

Lawyers of Mexico filed a “friend of the court brief,” according to CNN, where they argue that US border agencies have killed dozens of individuals at the border and pled the justices to take the case. 

“When agents of the United States government violate fundamental rights of Mexican nationals and others within Mexico’s jurisdiction, it is a priority to Mexico to see that the United States has provided adequate means to hold the agents accountable and to compensate the victims,” they wrote. 

The solicitor general insists the family cannot sue. SCOTUS will finally weigh in. 

Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued in court briefs that, “imposing a damages remedy on aliens injured abroad by US government officials would implicate foreign-policy considerations that are committed to the political branches” and that inserting the courts into matters of international diplomacy would, “risk undermining the government’s ability to speak with one voice in international affairs.”

While Francisco believes the court should hear the case because lower courts have been split on the matter, he is hoping SCOTUS will affirm the lower court’s decision to block the family from suing. 

Mexico argues SCOTUS must take the case to address excessive force at the border. In a brief, they remind of the justices of international human rights obligations. 

“The decision below failed to take account of the binding international human rights obligations that the United States has undertaken by treaty to Mexico and its nationals. Those include, among others, the obligation to respect the fundamental right not to be arbitrarily deprived of life and the right to an effective remedy when fundamental rights have been violated,” the government stated.

“A nation’s obligations to respect human rights do not stop at its borders but apply anywhere that the nation exercises effective control.”

While it has taken nearly a decade, SCOTUS will now decide if the actions of individuals carried out abroad have consequences on American soil. The outcome will set a new precedent and will have serious outcomes for how agents treat immigrants in the future. 

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