Rights of Mexicans in Question in US Courts

On Monday, June 7, 2010, four Mexican teenagers were walking under a bridge that crosses the Rio Grande and joins Ciudad Juárez with El Paso. They were not immigrants, and they did not appear to be attempting to climb the cement wall that separates the two cities.

Everything indicates that they were playing − touching the border wall and running back. However, the day ended with one of them, 14-year-old Sergio Adrián Hernández Guereca, dead. Shot in the face while on Mexican ground. Shot by an American agent. Shot from the Texas side.

Some versions contend that the Border Patrol agent, Jesús Mesa Jr., after receiving a call informing him that individuals were trying to cross illegally, went by bicycle to Paso del Norte. There, he tried to arrest the young people, dragging one of them to the U.S. side, while pointing his gun toward another on the Mexican side and then killing him.

An FBI agent who investigated the case said Mesa had given verbal orders to the youngsters and fired only when they began throwing stones at him. A video of the incident taken by a passerby throws that version into question.

The video shows the boys approaching a fence, in an attempt to cross into U.S. territory, when the agent intercepts the group and manages to stop one of them, while the other three run to the Mexican side. When they see their captured partner, they throw a couple of stones at Mesa, who immediately shoots three times at close range, causing the death of Hernández Guereca.

The images disprove that the agent’s life was ever in danger, as the United States Department of Justice has contended. They also contradict the story of the youngster’s mother, that her son was only an observer who had never tried to cross the border.

Investigation revealed that the youngster had been arrested twice before, when he helped others cross the river. He was accused of human trafficking but released because he was a minor. However, when he was shot, the agent did not know any of that.

In 2012, the administration of Barack Obama granted immunity to the agent, considering it unnecessary to submit the case to judicial process or to extradite the agent to Mexico. Thus, the death of the youth went unpunished, despite the fact that the Mexican government, then led by Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, had accused the agent of murder and demanded that justice be done.

In April 2015, the adolescent’s parents sued Mesa for their son’s death, alleging abuse of force. The case was dismissed by a federal judge in New Orleans, who ruled that the agent was protected by law against any lawsuit, unless it could be established that the victim had rights in the United States. Because the adolescent was Mexican and was on Mexican soil when the events occurred, it was decided that he did not have rights and that he was not protected by the Constitution against abuse of authority. His lawyers appealed unsuccessfully. The matter then reached the Supreme Court, which, in 2017, sent it back without reaching any decision.

However, the highest court in the country has reconsidered and will analyze the case on Nov. 12. Basically, it will determine whether or not Hernández Guereca’s family has the legal right to sue Mesa. Whatever the determination, it will be decisive, not only for this case, but also because it will set a precedent for how Mexicans, in particular, and foreigners, in general − including victims of drones or bombings − will be treated in the future in U.S. courts.

The Supreme Court will not decide whether or not Mesa goes to trial or is guilty in the killing of the youth. It will decide only if his Mexican family can sue the agent. The Trump administration takes a negative position on this. But what would you expect?

According to a story from The New York Times, the president − in meetings with his cabinet − has suggested not only that U.S. agents throw stones at those who throw stones at the border, but that the border wall be fortified with a moat filled with snakes and crocodiles, that electric spikes be installed, and that immigrants be shot in the legs. Luckily, Trump’s own people were horrified and resisted.

About this publication

About Patricia Simoni 68 Articles
I first edited and translated for Watching America from 2009 through 2011, recently returning and rediscovering the pleasure of working with dedicated translators and editors. Latin America is of special interest to me. In the mid-60’s, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile, and later lived for three years in Mexico, in the states of Oaxaca and Michoacán and in Mexico City. During those years, my work included interviewing in anthropology research, teaching at a bilingual school in the federal district, and conducting workshops in home nursing care for disadvantaged inner city women. I earned a BS degree from Wagner College, masters and doctoral degrees from WVU, and was a faculty member of the WVU School of Nursing for 27 years. In that position, I coordinated a two-year federal grant (FIPSE) at WVU for an exchange of nursing students with the University of Guanajuato, Mexico. Presently a retiree, I live in Morgantown, West Virginia, where I enjoy traditional Appalachian fiddling with friends. Working toward the mission of WA, to help those in the U.S. see ourselves as others see us, gives me a sense of purpose.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply