Mr. Bush, Please Pardon Border Patrol Agents

By Roy Beck, Wednesday, January 14, 2009, 2:03 PM

NumbersUSA's members have been divided about the appropriateness of the actions of Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who have now been in prison for two years. But I believe that almost nobody believes they should spend another day in prison. In the name of fairness, proportionality and morale for our beleaguered defenders on the borders, Pres. Bush needs to release these border agents to their families. Please contact the White House today before Pres. Bush leaves.

I am not going to rehearse the voluminous details of this case here. You can read more elsewhere.

But now that Ramos and Compean have spent two years in prison, there is no longer any need to discuss whether they did anything wrong. The question is whether what they did can possibly justify more than two years in prison. I say no way, Jose and no way, Ignacio.

Without a pardon, Ramos has another 9 years in prison -- Compean another 10 years.

To the Washington Times editorial department, this is the issue:

If President Bush would simply pardon the unjustly imprisoned former Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, we could all rest much easier knowing that in the United States, a foreign drug smuggler's word does not prevail over the word of federal agents in the line of duty.

After leading agents on a wild car chase through the desert southeast of El Paso three years ago, Mexican national Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, a convicted drug smuggler, fled his drug-filled vehicle on foot and then refused orders from Border agents to halt. Shots from Ramos and Compean resulted in the illegal alien being struck in the buttocks. The alien continued to flee across the border and escaped. Controversy arose over whether Ramos and Compean had followed Border Patrol policy in firing their weapons and whether they had violated policies about making reports on discharge of weapons.

Federal authorities tracked down Aldrete-Davila in Mexico and offered him immunity in exchange for his testimony against the border agents. He then filed a $5 million suit against the federal government for violating his civil rights.

On the illegal alien's testimony, the border agents were convicted by a federal jury on charges that included: assault with a dangerous weapon, lying about the incident and violating the alleged smuggler's Fourth Amendment right to be protected against illegal search and seizure. Despite all the assistance the feds gave to the drug smuggler, he chose to continue his life of crime and last year pleaded guilty in federal court to multiple drug charges — crimes that occurred after the shooting episode.

All of this has been especially dispiriting to the brave men and women who daily risk their lives on a border increasingly violent with super-armed Mexican drug cartels and rogue Mexican para-military. What they have learned is that split-second decisions they make in doing their best to perform their duties can cost them their jobs, their families and leave them for years in prison longer than almost any criminal they ever apprehend on the border.

To many -- probably most -- of NumbersUSA members, everything about this stinks. To them, Ramos and Compean are heroes, doing their job to protect Americans from drugs, slave trade, terrorism and illegal workers who either steal jobs from Americans or depress the wages. They were aggressively performing their duty and in no way should be punished for that.

To other of our members, Ramos and Compean violated Border Patrol policy and deserved suspension, and maybe even firing.

To a small number, their violation of policy deserved some kind of jail time.

However, I have never heard of anybody who opposes illegal immigration who believes the actions of these two agents deserved two years of prison, let alone a decade!

One of the reasons so many Americans have spent so much time fighting for Ramos and Compean these last few years is to assure the agents still on our borders that somebody in America will back them up.

The hatred that elitist America feels toward our Border Patrol can be seen in the way that the New York Times, Washington Post and other elitist mouthpieces have reacted to the new TV series that follows Homeland Security personnel like the "Cops" show. To read the reactions to this series, one would think that the biggest threat to American security is the "thugs" who defend our borders. They despise the series for trying to make it seem honorable to defend our borders.

Don't misunderstand my appeal for Ramos and Compean. I know that in a huge force, there are bad cops. The worst take bribes to assist the smuggling, and we occasionally hear of another bad apple being exposed. There also are sadistic people who use their badge to do inhumane things. Of course, we want internal affairs to police the police. Nothing in Ramos and Compean's past suggests that these were issues with them. They appear to have been good cops who may or may not have made an error in judgment and in policy. Let's get them back to their wives, children and parents.

ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA ... gents.html