Former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos embraced his wife, Monica Ramos, two days before he was sentenced to 11 years in prison (Courtesy El Paso Times)
WASHINGTON – A dozen members of the House of Representatives have written to President Bush demanding an investigation of the case against two Border Patrol agents sentenced to 11 and 12 years in prison for the pursuit and shooting of a drug smuggler and calling for a presidential pardon of the pair.
U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso, Texas, sentenced Jose Alonso Compean to 12 years in prison and Ignacio Ramos to 11 years and one day despite a plea by their attorney for a new trial after three jurors said they were coerced into voting guilty in the case.
As WND reported, a federal jury convicted Compean, 28, and Ramos, 37, in March after a two-week trial on charges of causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and a civil rights violation.
A congressional hearing on the case is being planned for Nov. 13.
The letter to Bush was signed by Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., Rep. Gary Miller, R-Calif., Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va. and Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., the chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus.
“Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean attempted to apprehend a Mexican drug smuggler who brought 743 pounds of marijuana across the U.S. border last year,” wrote the congressmen. “The two agents were prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the smuggler was granted full immunity to testify against the agents. Both men were convicted by a Texas jury for firing shots at the fleeing smuggler, who, they believed, carried a gun.”
Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean (KFOX-TV, El Paso, Texas)
The letter questioned the accuracy of the charges against the agents and the conduct of the prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton.
“We ask that a full investigation of this case be ordered immediately,” they went on to say in the letter sent to the White House yesterday. “We are confident that during such an investigation you will find that these Border Patrol agents were acting within the scope of their duty and were unjustly prosecuted. Also, we ask that you use your power of presidential pardon, as granted by the United States Constitution in Article II, Section 2, to pardon these two Border Patrol agents. We understand these requests usually are for those that have already completed their sentences; however, we feel in this case it would be a miscarriage of justice to send these two Border Patrol agents to prison for protecting our nation’s borders from an illegal drug smuggler.”
The letter notes that both agents have been ordered to surrender themselves to federal authorities Jan. 17 unless action is taken to overturn “this unjust result.”
“This is not the message that our legal system should be giving to the drug cartels that are smuggling drugs, people and terrorists across our borders,” said Tancredo, author of “In Mortal Danger,” a book that says the insecure border and immigration enforcement policies represent the No. 1 crisis in the U.S. today.
Meanwhile, the Federation for American Immigration Reform has launched a petition drive to get Bush to reopen the case.
The group cites a statement by Rep. Jones who said: “The Justice Department’s outrageous prosecution does nothing but tie the hands of our Border Patrol and prevent them from securing America against a flood of illegal immigrants, drugs, counterfeit goods and, quite possibly, terrorists. This demoralizing prosecution puts the rights of illegal alien drug smugglers ahead of our homeland security and undermines the critical mission of better enforcing current immigration laws.”
Joe Loya, agent Ramos’ father-in-law, has created a website on the case and is also encouraging Americans to write to Bush urging a pardon. He is also publicizing a fund for Ramos’ family.
So far, the White House has resisted calls for reopening the investigation and dismissed questions about a pardon raised by WND White House correspondent Les Kinsolving. Even asking whether the two agents should be pardoned was “nonsensical,” in the words of Bush spokesman Tony Snow..
“That’s an unanswerable question, Les,” said Snow yesterday. “The president is the person who is responsible for pardons. You can tell the network, which made you ask that question, that it is nonsensical.”