In June of 2010, a 15-year-old, unarmed Mexican citizen named Sergio Hernandez Guereca was shot and killed by an agent of the U.S. Border Patrol. The shooting happened in the riverbed of the Rio Grande, which, between the cities of Juarez and El Paso, consists of a mostly dry, concrete culvert. The U.S.-Mexico border runs, unmarked, down the middle of the river, and when the shooting happened, Hernandez was in Mexico, but the agent who shot him was standing in the U.S.
When Hernandez’s family sued for damages, two American courts threw out their claim on the grounds that Mexican citizens on Mexican soil were not protected by the U.S. constitution. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments last week.
If the court decides in the Hernandez family’s favor, it could expand the reach of the U.S. Constitution — and it could also subject the Border Patrol to a new level of scrutiny.
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