MR.BUSH: PARDON BORDER AGENTS
Congressmen Ask President Bush To Pardon Two Courageous Officers
By Mike Blair
Fifty-one members of Congress on Dec. 11 sent a letter to President Bush
asking that he commute the sentences of or pardon two U.S. Border Patrol officers sentenced to a combined 20 years for shooting a fleeing illegal alien drug trafficker they had caught smuggling 80 pounds of marijuana and 20 pounds of cocaine across the border from Mexico.
Presidential press secretary Tony Snow has called the pardon issue “nonsensical.” But the appeal to the president, headed by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), urges Bush to issue “Christmas pardons.”
Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean encountered Osbaldo Aldrete-Davilla on Feb. 17, 2005, in a van containing drugs near a levee road along the Rio Grande River, near the Texas town of Febens.
Compean scuffled briefly with the drug trafficker and some shots were fired as the illegal alien headed back across the border. Ramos gave chase and when he saw Aldrete-Davilla brandishing an object the border patrolman believed to be a gun, he fired his handgun and struck the drug smuggler in a buttock. The man continued his flight and was picked up by another vehicle on the other side of the river.
An agent of the Office of Homeland Security was told by a Border Patrol agent in Arizona that Aldrete-Davila “had told (Border Patrol agent) Rene Sanchez that his friends had told him they should put together a hunting party and go shoot some BP agents in revenge for them shooting Osbaldo.”
This is according to a memo written by Christopher Sanchez, an investigator with Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.
Sanchez’s memo indicated further that Aldrete-Davila told him, “he had told his friends he was not interested in going after the BP agents and getting in more trouble.”
Nevertheless, Aldrete-Davila in December 2005 was caught trying to smuggle a half-ton of marijuana into the United States, at the border 40 miles from El Paso. In spite of this, the illegal alien drug trafficker was given
immunity from prosecution for his drug smuggling in exchange for agreeing to appear in district court in El Paso to give testimony about his wounding. However, he did not appear to give his testimony, and his whereabouts are unknown.
The two agents were found guilty of shooting the man and other associated crimes. Ramos and Compean were then sentenced to 11 and 12 years in prison, respectively. Unless President Bush commutes their sentences or pardons them, they will have to begin serving their sentences on Jan. 17.
Incredibly, the government bases a major part of its case on the regulation that Border Patrol officers are not supposed to pursue fleeing suspects.
“How are we supposed to follow the Border Patrol strategy of apprehending terrorists or drug smugglers if we are not supposed to pursue fleeing people?” Ramos asked. He said he only did what he has done for the previous 10 years as a Border Patrolman. “Everybody who’s breaking the law flees from us. What are we supposed to do? Do they want us to catch them or not?”
“This sentence is a travesty of justice,” the congressmen have written in their letter to the president. “We can think of nothing more immoral than to allow the lives and families of those who protect us to be destroyed by an overly aggressive and questionable prosecution by the U.S. attorney’s office. The severity of the charges brought against these men, and the harshness of the punishment is totally disproportionate to the violation in question.
“This episode sends the wrong message to those who defend America at our border, to the American people, and especially to the criminals who operate at our southern border. How can anyone believe we are serious about border security when the lives of two agents sworn to protect those very borders are torn apart, but a vicious drug smuggler is given medical care [at a U.S. military hospital in Texas] and allowed to walk free? It is inhumane and a betrayal of the American people’s trust to allow the sentences of Agents Ramos and Compean to be carried out.
“At this time, the only just course of action is to commute the sentences of Agents Ramos and Compean. We implore you to become personally involved in this case, and bring a holiday miracle to these agents and their families.”
(Issue #52, December 25, 2006)