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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)
A Border Patrol agent sentenced to prison along with his partner for shooting and wounding a man smuggling drugs into the U.S. will appear with a congressman tomorrow at a rally asking President Bush to offer a pardon.
Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos, were sentenced to 12 years and 11 years, respectively, in October by U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso, Texas. The drug smuggler was granted immunity for his testimony.
Compean will be joined by family; Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R, Calif.; Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist; and members of other border-security groups such as Friends of the Border Patrol at the courthouse in Santa Ana, Calif., at 1:30 p.m. Pacific time tomorrow.
Rohrabacher, noting the president already has received a letter about the case from more than 50 Congress members, is asking Americans to sign petitions and send e-mails and letters to the White House requesting a “Christmas pardon.”
Grassfire.org has an online petition calling on Bush to pardon the agents, with more than 130,000 signatures.
“This is the greatest miscarriage of justice that I’ve seen in my career,” Rohrabacher told WND. “Two brave Border Patrol agents trying to enforce the president’s nonsensical border policy ending up being sent to prison, while an illegal alien drug smuggler is given immunity and walks free.”
Compean’s sister, of Huntington Beach, lives in Rohrabacher’s Southern California district.
The White House has not responded to the letter, according to Rohrabacher, and did not follow up a request from WND for comment. Press secretary Tony Snow has said he cannot comment on presidential pardons.
Gilchrist said what has happened to the two agents is “atrocious,” with “their lifes being ruined, their families being put in turmoil.”
“We would expect the president to give a full and unconditional pardon to these two wrongly arrested, wrongly accused, wrongly convicted members of law enforcement,” he told WND, “and retroactive pay and benefits they’ve lost over the past two years since they were originally arrested.”
As WND has 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.
Agent Jose Alonso Compean. Courtesy of KFOX-TV
Ramos is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserve and a former nominee for Border Patrol Agent of the Year.
On Feb. 17, 2005, Ramos responded to a request for back-up from Compean, who noticed a suspicious van near the levee road along the Rio Grande River near the Texas town of Fabens, about 40 miles east of El Paso. A third agent also joined the pursuit.
Fleeing was an illegal alien, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila of Mexico. Unknown to the growing number of Border Patrol agents converging on Fabens, Aldrete-Davila’s van was carrying 800 pounds of marijuana.
Aldrete-Davila stopped the van on a levee, jumped out and started running toward the river. When he reached the other side of the levee, he was met by Compean who had anticipated the smuggler’s attempt to get back to Mexico.
“We both yelled out for him to stop, but he wouldn’t stop, and he just kept running,” Ramos told California’s Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.
“At some point during the time where I’m crossing the canal, I hear shots being fired,” Ramos said. “Later, I see Compean on the ground, but I keep running after the smuggler.”
At that point, Ramos said, Aldrete-Davila turned toward him, pointing what looked like a gun.
“I shot,” Ramos said. “But I didn’t think he was hit, because he kept running into the brush and then disappeared into it. Later, we all watched as he jumped into a van waiting for him. He seemed fine. It didn’t look like he had been hit at all.”
The U.S. government filed charges against Ramos and Compean after giving full immunity to Aldrete-Davila and paying for his medical treatment at an El Paso hospital.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas issued a statement in September arguing “the defendants were prosecuted because they had fired their weapons at a man who had attempted to surrender by holding his open hands in the air, at which time Agent Compean attempted to hit the man with the butt of Compean’s shotgun, causing the man to run in fear of what the agents would do to him next.”
The statement said, “Although both agents saw that the man was not armed, the agents fired at least 15 rounds at him while he was running away from them, hitting him once.”
Andy Ramirez of Friends of the Border Patrol said the drug smuggler has “fully contributed to the destruction of two brave agents and their families and has sent a very loud message to the other Border Patrol agents: If you confront a smuggler, this is what will happen to you.”
The letter to Bush included the signatures of 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.
“We ask that a full investigation of this case be ordered immediately,” the letter said. “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.”
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