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On February 21, the Supreme Court heard argument in Hernandez v. Mesa. In July of 2010, a 15-year-old adolescent named Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca and his friends were playing along a concrete structure on the border of the U.S. and Mexico. When Jesus Mesa, Jr., a U.S. Border Patrol Agent arrived, he detained one of the youths on the border, and shot and killed Hernandez, who was hiding behind a pillar of the Paso Del Norte Bridge on the Mexican side of the border. Hernandez’s parents sued Agent Mesa under the Fourth and Fifth Amendment for the use of unlawful and disproportionate force. Agent Mesa argued that the Fourth and Fifth Amendments did not apply because Hernandez was not a U.S. citizen.

The District Court found for Agent Mesa, while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the Fifth Amendment protections against deadly force applied but the Fourth Amendment did not, and that Agent Mesa should not receive qualified immunity. The main questions for the Supreme Court to answer are: Does the Fourth Amendment apply? Should qualified immunity apply to the border patrol agent? And can Agent Mesa make a Bivens claim?

Steve Giaier of the House Committee on Homeland Security attended oral argument and shared his perceptions.


  • Steven Giaier, Senior Counsel, House Committee on Homeland Security