Chelsea Schilling is a commentary editor and staff writer for WND and a proud U.S. Army veteran. She has also worked as a news producer at USA Radio Network and as a news reporter for the Sacramento Union.More ↓Less ↑
Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean
While another year passes without a presidential pardon for Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos, the families are reaching out for an 11th-hour act of compassion.
Jose Compean’s wife, Patty, told WND she will not resent George W. Bush if he leaves office without granting her husband freedom, but she would like to have a heart-to-heart moment with the president.
“I would just sit down, introduce myself and listen to him to see where he’s coming from and what his point of view is,” she said. “Then I’d ask for him to give me the same courtesy. He’d get to see where we’re coming from, and I’d get to see where he’s coming from. I can’t change anybody’s mind, but I would like that opportunity.”
While many people might expect her to be angry with President Bush’s silence, Patty has chosen not to take that position.
“I can’t judge the man because I’m not in his shoes,” she said with sincerity. “He’s doing what he thinks is right at the moment. He’s going to deal with the consequences, not me.”
Her calm outlook might be shocking to some people, especially since her children are growing up without a father while the president has pardoned or commuted sentences for 36 drug dealers, 12 thieves, seven embezzlers, an arsonist, an armed bank robber and an illegal-alien smuggler.
Life without Dad
Jose and Patty’s youngest son, David Antonio, has never experienced life with a father, and the other children have been devastated by his imprisonment.
Patty Compean (left), Monica Ramos (right). Boys on wives’ laps are Compean’s sons Eric Alonso and David Antonio. Boys in back are Ramos’ sons, Aaron and Ryan. Ramos’ son, Jacob, and Compean’s daughter, Anna Belle, are in front. (photo: Ramos, Compean families)
“Our 2-year-old has never really known Jose, so he can’t really miss him,” she said. “It sounds horrible, but it’s true.”
Patty said the bond between father and son is simply not there, as David Antonio was only three months old when his father was incarcerated.
“To him, he’s just a guy we go visit. He knows it’s dad because I show him pictures and say, ‘That’s your dad.’ He’s spoken to us on the phone, and I say, ‘That’s your dad.’”
She continued, “But he also knows that a dog is a dog and a cat is a cat.”
Their oldest son, Eric Alonso, now 4, simply looked confused and stared at the wall when his father went away. But Jose’s imprisonment is something his daughter, Anna Belle, 14, copes with on a daily basis.
“Since the beginning, she’s been trying to hold it in,” Patty said. “She tries to hide it, keep it all inside and not let me see what’s going on.”
While Anna Belle was running errands with her aunt last week, Aerosmith’s hit song, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” played on the car radio.
She broke down, crying.
“That’s the one that always gets her when she thinks about her dad,” Patty said. “That was playing and she was remembering when he turned himself in. She remembered every single detail.”
Precious minutes together
Their visits are limited because Jose is in solitary confinement in Lisbon, Ohio – approximately 1,815 miles away from his El Paso home.
Traveling is difficult for the family because it requires money and a flexible school schedule.
“Last year, I was able to see him three times, and the kids went to see him twice,” Patty said. “It’s two plane rides if you’re lucky. If not, it’s three.
“It gets to be a lot,” she said, “especially with the two-hour time change, being away from their surroundings and cooped up in a prison with somebody they really don’t know.”
Elkton Federal Correctional Institution in Ohio
Jose is only allowed to call once each month, and he’s given only 15 precious minutes – time that is usually split four ways.
“It’s not much. We have to take it when we get it at this point. Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess,” she laughed nervously.
But without a father and husband in their lives, the Compean family still manages to keep hope, even after another holiday season.
“Personally, I feel a lot stronger now and a lot more focused than I did last year,” Patty said with confidence. “Last year was just a mess. Being the first year, I had no idea which way was up and which way was down.
“This year I am much more focused, and so is Jose. The wound is not as fresh.”
Keeping the faith
The Compean family remains optimistic that Bush might consider a pardon as a last-minute surprise before Inauguration Day.
“There’s always hope,” Patty said. “That’s what keeps us going. To me, there’s always a possibility that the president will do it.”
Asked if Jose ever gets discouraged about that possibility, she said, “Yeah, he could be. He was telling me, ‘You know, I didn’t expect Bush to do anything for us, so I’m not surprised.’”
But that’s when the family’s faith takes over.
“You have to believe that God has a plan. He will not throw something at you that you cannot handle,” she said. “This will make us stronger. We can either react by growing angry and resentful or we can turn this into a positive thing and perhaps even help others. It is just the way you look at it.”
In the meantime, Patty said her children need their mother, and Jose needs her to be clear minded, strong and focused.
“We’re doing everything we can – everything,” she said. “I know I’m not going to quit until it’s over. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not going to be over until he comes home.”