Ramos embraces her husband, former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio
Ramos, two days before he was sentenced to 11 years in prison (Courtesy
El Paso Times)
As president, George W. Bush has pardoned or commuted sentences for 32 drug dealers, 12 thieves, seven embezzlers, an arsonist, an armed bank robber and eight Thanksgiving turkeys, among others – but U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean remain in prison this Christmas, praying for their release.
“It’s pretty much salt in the wound,” Ramos’ wife, Monica, told WND. “But we have a lot of hope. My husband has quite a bit of faith, and we pray a lot. We are hoping the outpouring of support that we have here from people all over the nation is going to help us.”
Ramos and Compean are serving 11- and 12-year prison sentences, respectively, for shooting at a fleeing illegal alien drug dealer while he smuggled nearly 750 pounds of marijuana across the border. They were convicted of assault, discharge of a weapon in the commission of a crime of violence, tampering with an official proceeding and deprivation of civil rights.
U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton’s office gave the smuggler, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, full immunity from prosecution for agreeing to serve as the government’s star witness and testify against the border agents. A ruling, from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals, affirmed all convictions except for tampering with an official proceeding, which it vacated and remanded for resentencing.
Another lonely Christmas
For the Ramos and Compean families, this time of year is often very emotional without Ignacio and Jose.
“We have six children involved,” Monica said. “It’s really difficult – especially right now during this holiday season. Holidays for us are very depressing.”
Patty Compean (left), Monica Ramos (right) and children (photo: Ramos, Compean families)
She said the Ramos and Compean children, five boys and one girl, range in age from 2 to 15. Ramos’ imprisonment has drastically altered his three children’s lives.
“Four years later, the kids have really changed,” she said. “Their father was a huge part of their everyday routines, from little-league baseball to hunting. A lot of the traditions that we’ve had during our holidays have just changed. There is not much tradition anymore because there’s a big void in our family right now.”
Ramos’ children rarely get to see their father because Monica’s visits have been restricted to a single weekday, when the children are in school.
“My husband is supposed to be eligible for extra visits, and they have denied me extra visits with him,” she said.
Ramos was segregated from the general prison population after he was assaulted in a Yazoo City, Miss., federal penitentiary following an “America’s Most Wanted” episode that detailed the agents’ struggles.
“A couple of the inmates in general population on the night it aired recognized my husband on TV,” Ramos said. “They approached him shortly after the airing right when it was time to go to sleep, and five illegals just beat him severely.”
The agent suffered three herniated disks and a fractured shoulder from the assault.
Four days later, representatives from Washington, including Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., and other congressional staffers, went to visit him.
“They were absolutely floored with what they saw happen to my husband,” his wife said.
Ramos served only four days in general population. He was placed in total solitary confinement after the attack, and within months he was relocated to the Phoenix Federal Correctional Institute so he could be closer to his family. The new prison was accommodating and allowed normal visitation privileges at first.
However, Monica said seeing her husband now “is like pulling teeth.”
“He is not supposed to be under the punitive consequences of segregation, even though he’s there,” she said. “He is supposed to be eligible for any of the provisions that would be for any general population.”
Tried and convicted by media
Monica said while her family is coping with her husband’s confinement, her children often watch television and see media distortions about their father’s case.
El Paso, Texas, in foreground and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, in background (photo: El Paso REDCo)
“It’s sad to say that both men were tried in the eyes of the media,” she said. “With the kids, I am very honest with them. I keep them very informed of what the truth is. I make sure that they realize that in the media they are going to hear differently – especially here in our media. We have very little support in El Paso.”
Ramos said it is difficult to live in a border town known as the “sister city” to Juarez, Mexico, because many people automatically assume the agents are guilty.
“Being that we’re so close to Mexico, there are a lot of people who have their roots in Mexico,” she said. “This is why people started to say in the beginning that we are racist. I’m not racist. I think that there are very many people in Mexico that deserve a better chance at life here in the United States.
“But if you’re going to come here, you’re going to do it the right way,” she said.
While some area residents automatically condemned the agents, Ramos said the media played on sensationalism for what they believed was a good story.
“What’s more intriguing for a story: A drug dealer getting caught? That’s an everyday thing here,” she said. “Or two border patrol agents who supposedly covered it up?”
Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court
Ramos’ attorney, David Botsworth, said a petition for writ of certiorari was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court and docketed on Dec. 11. The government has the right to file a response should it choose to do so by early January.
“It’s obviously an astronomical uphill battle to get review in the Supreme Court,” Botsworth said. “I think the issues are worthy of their consideration.”
U.S. Supreme Court
Asked whether he believes President Bush will wait to see whether the Supreme Court accepts the appeal, Botsford said, “He certainly didn’t do that with Scooter Libby, did he?”
The agents may still file a motion to vacate sentence for one year if the Supreme Court denies certiorari.
Beyond those steps, the only other option is for the president to grant a pardon or commutation of sentence request filed through the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Pardon Attorney.
WND’s calls to the DOJ pardon attorney have not yet been returned.
Nonetheless, Ramos believes public pressure could make all the difference.
“So many people have seen the injustice in this,” Ramos said. “People might say, ‘What’s my voice going to do?’ Myself and Mrs. Compean, we’re but one voice. We need the help of the public. We need people to help us contact him.”
Her family continues to hope and pray that President Bush will intervene.
“We are guardedly optimistic that it will happen. We only have a few more weeks to work on the president in hopes that it touches his heart.”
Concerned individuals may also write Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean by visting the Free “Nacho Ramos” official website for mailing addresses.