The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday barred a lawsuit against a Border Patrol agent for fatally shooting a 15-year-old Mexican boy on Mexican soil from across the border in Texas, refusing to open the door for foreign nationals to pursue civil rights cases in American courts in such incidents, Reuters informs.
With its conservative justices in the majority and its liberal justices dissenting, the court voted 5-4 to uphold a lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit against the agent, Jesus Mesa, who was standing on the U.S. side of the border when he shot Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca in the face in 2010.
The boy’s family sued in federal court seeking monetary damages, accusing Mesa of violating the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment ban on unjustified deadly force and the Fifth Amendment right to due process.
The ruling, which matched the position taken by President Donald Trump’s administration in the case, also ended litigation involving a similar incident in which a Border Patrol agent fatally shot a 16-year-old Mexican named Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez from across the border in Arizona.
“To be left with no remedy … given such a violent and unprovoked shooting weakens the constitutional foundation of America’s house,” said Robert Hilliard, a lawyer for Hernandez’s family, adding that the ruling could “promote a Wild West attitude on our border.”
The decision prevents civil rights lawsuits in U.S. federal courts involving such cross-border incidents when the person who is injured or killed is not on American soil, Reuters noted.
Later on Tuesday, the Mexican government said it is deeply concerned about the effects this decision will have on similar cases in which its citizens have died from gunshots fired by U.S. agents towards the Mexican side.
“The gravity of this ruling could not be clearer given the Trump administration’s militarized rhetoric and policies targeting people at the border,” said Lee Gelernt, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the Rodriguez family.
The ruling was issued at a time of high tensions involving the southern border, where Trump is pursuing construction of a wall separating the United States and Mexico.