McALLEN, RGV – The Mexican government has issued a statement on a court ruling on the death of Mexican minor Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereca.
The 15-year-old was shot dead by Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa, Jr., while standing on Mexican soil across the Rio Grande from El Paso. The shooting caused outrage in Mexico because Hernández was unarmed and was said to be a well-behaved youth.
Here is the statement from the Mexican government:
Mexico acknowledges the progress made on the case of Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereca, the Mexican minor who died after being shot by a U.S. Border Patrol agent while standing on Mexican soil in June, 2010.
Yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit confirmed the dismissal of claims against the United States. However, Mexico welcomes the Court’s finding that “a noncitizen injured outside the United States as a result of arbitrary official conduct by a law enforcement officer located in the United States may invoke the protections provided by the 5th amendment”, for the purposes of monetary reparation.
Mexico also recognizes the court’s rationale in this decision, stating that Border Patrol agents are not free “to move in and out of constitutional strictures, creating zones of lawlessness.” The Government of Mexico will remain attentive to any legal recourse brought against the Border Patrol agent responsible for the death of Hernández Güereca.
Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereca is one of six of Mexican nationals that have been killed as a result of trans-boundary shootings by U.S. agents since 2010. In this case, the Mexican Government filed a “Friend of the Court” (Amicus Curiae) brief emphasizing the obligation of all States to take legal responsibility for the conduct of their authorities, and the right of the plaintiffs to an effective remedy in cases of human rights violations, including judicial proceedings.
In each case, the Government of Mexico has seriously questioned the disproportionate response by Border Patrol agents. Mexico reiterates the deep concern raised by the use of lethal force by U.S. authorities against unarmed individuals, and its use across the international border. Therefore, as part of the political dialogue between Mexico and the United States, a Working Group on the Use of Force with key agencies from both governments was created to respond with a bilateral and integral perspective to this serious phenomenon.
The 5th Circuit panel ruled Hernández’s family could file suit under a Fifth Amendment claim.
Shawn Moran, vice president at-large and a spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council, said he believes the court ruling will have a “very chilling effect” and hopes the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn it. Moran said Border Patrol agents might think twice about shooting when they come under attack. “I don’t want to see any more dead Border Patrol agents,” Moran told reporters.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas welcomed the court ruling. “Today the Fifth Circuit helped ensure that [Customs and Border Patrol] agents are held accountable for shocking and outrageous abuse, even when their victims aren’t inside the U.S.,” said Adriana Piñon, an ACLU of Texas staff attorney, in a statement.
“Since 2010, CBP agents killed six Mexican nationals who were standing near the Mexico side of the U.S-Mexico border and CBP has taken no steps to hold the agents accountable. The Fifth Circuit clearly signaled that Border Patrol cannot operate with impunity.”
Meanwhile, Brownsville civil rights leader Eloisa Tamez says she has still not received an answer from elected officials to questions she has about the rape of three Honduran women immigrants — two of them only 14 years of age — by an on-duty Border Patrol agent who later killed himself. The agent was Esteban Manzanares and the attack on the women took place on the banks of the Rio Grande at Anzalduas Park in Mission.
Tamez is a Lipan Apache civil rights leader, lecturer, professional nurse, professor and retired officer of the U.S. Nursing Corps.
“Border Patrol immediately rushed the women out of the Rio Grande Valley so that no reporters would get to them for details. I have contacted the offices of U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and U.S. Representatives Ruben Hinojosa, Henry Cuellar and Filemon Vela. A group of us are still waiting for a response,” Tamez said.
“We believe that a commission should be formed, not of internal government officials, but of experts in health care who can interview the women and children who come face to face with our federal agents as we believe that what happened is Hidalgo County is not an isolated incident but a prevalent one. If such a commission is only represented by federal officials it could very well end up like the IRS or VA scandals, to name two of the recent avalanche of scandals.”