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The examples deal with the US, but I'd also be curious about similar laws relating to other countries.

Imagine there is an underground cave or tunnel whose entrance is in Sonora, Mexico, but which extends underground to pass under the territory of Arizona, United States. Now imagine that a woman enters the cave or tunnel and knowingly walks into the part that is under Arizona.

  • Assuming she is not a US citizen, LPR or visa holder, has she illegally entered the country?
  • If she commits a crime while in that area, would a court in Arizona have jurisdiction to try her for it? What about a court in Sonora?
  • If she gives birth to a child while in that area, would the child be a US citizen by jus soli ? Would it be a Mexican citizen?

Now imagine that instead of an underground passage, any of the events occurs in one of the following situations:

  • She has jumped across the border line, but has not yet landed (okay, hard to imagine a child being born in this short of a time, but surely a crime could be committed while in the air)
  • She is in an airplane crossing the airspace over Arizona
  • She is an astronaut on the International Space Station, which happens to pass over Arizona in its orbit.

If there is any difference between the "jumping", "airplane", and "space station" answers, why? Is there a specific altitude at which territorial jurisdiction expires?

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Down - to the centre of the Earth. In a practical sense, 10km or so.

Up - to the edge of space.

Assuming she is not a US citizen, LPR or visa holder, has she illegally entered the country?

Has she entered the country? Yes.

Is this illegal? Well, presuming it is not a place "designated by immigration officers" for entry? Yes, irrespective of any residency or visas she holds. Only US citizens may enter at other than designated crossing places.

If she commits a crime while in that area, would a court in Arizona have jurisdiction to try her for it?

Yes.

What about a court in Sonora?

Maybe. It depends on if the crime triggers some form of extraterritorial Mexican jurisdiction.

If she gives birth to a child while in that area, would the child be a US citizen by jus soli ?

Yes.

Would it be a Mexican citizen?

If the mother or father is a Mexican, yes. Also, if the person is born on a Mexican-registered vessel or aircraft which seems unlikely in the circumstances.

She has jumped across the border line, but has not yet landed (okay, hard to imagine a child being born in this short of a time, but surely a crime could be committed while in the air)

Same answers apply.

She is in an airplane crossing the airspace over Arizona

What is the nationality of the airplane? Is this a commercial or private flight? Is its source or destination in the US, Mexico, both or neither? Has she passed through any nation's immigration?

She is an astronaut on the International Space Station, which happens to pass over Arizona in its orbit.

The ISS is subject to it's own treaties - it depends on her nationality and what part of the ISS she is in at the time.

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  • Just to close the case: In case the cave is more than 10 kilometers deep, the woman is pretty toast down there.
    – Trish
    Commented Aug 5, 2022 at 5:24
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    @Trish not toast, roast, she’s made of meat, not bread.
    – Dale M
    Commented Aug 5, 2022 at 5:49
  • Does that mean that falling rocks turn people into a SPAM-equivalent down there? ;)
    – Trish
    Commented Aug 5, 2022 at 5:50
  • @Trish No some sort of pressed meat rather than spiced meat. Although, there are a lot of mineral salts.
    – Dale M
    Commented Aug 5, 2022 at 6:11
  • Let’s assume that it is a Mexican commercial airline traveling from Hermosillo, Sonora to Tucson, Arizona and that she has not gone through any kind of immigration yet. Commented Aug 5, 2022 at 13:25

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