While Americans are applauding President Trump’s 180-degree turn from the immigration and border security policies of the Obama years, the president should take time to correct a grievous 10-years-old mistake from the Bush dynasty as well.
I am speaking about the Justice Department’s prosecution — and I would add, persecution — of two Border Patrol agents, Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos. The case is a good lesson in how the vast powers of the federal government can be deployed for narrow political purposes, not the ends of justice.
In February of 2005, Border Patrol officers Ramos and Compean were patrolling the Rio Grande border near Fabens, Texas. They encountered a van near the river that was behaving suspiciously, so they gave chase. The driver abandoned the vehicle and its almost 800-pound load of drugs and fled on foot toward the river. Agent Compean caught up with him, and a fight ensued, but the man escaped and continued running toward the border. Agent Ramos arrived on the scene, and both of them pursued the fleeing smuggler. When they saw the man turn and wave “a shiny object” which they thought was a gun, they opened fire at him. Both agents said later they did not realize at the time that a shot had hit the smuggler in the buttocks because the man kept running and disappeared into Mexico.
Weeks after the shooting occurred and as result of demands from the Mexican government, a Homeland Security Department’s inquiry was launched, and soon after that Ramos and Compean were put on trial. They were both found guilty of discharging a firearm during the commission of a violent crime! Compean received a 12-year sentence, and Ramos got 11 years.
The smuggler was a Mexican named Osvaldo Aldrete Davila, who was portrayed in court testimony as not a career drug smuggler but someone who had merely consented to smuggle this single load to get money to pay his mother’s medical bills. That fairy tale was adopted not only by the smuggler and his family but also by the prosecuting U.S. Attorney to paint the drug smuggler as the innocent victim of Border Patrol brutality and criminal behavior. And get this. In exchange for his testimony against the two agents who shot him, the smuggler was given a visa to let him have easy entry into the U.S. He then used the visa to help him deliver a second load of drugs! This time it was over 750 pounds of Marijuana, and he was armed when he was caught.
That arrest was never allowed to be admitted into the Ramos-Compean trial.
Two Texas congressmen, Ted Poe and John Culbertson, told CNN in 2007 that the truth of the matter was that Ramos and Compean had been the victim of a cover-up by the Border Patrol’s parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and that the DHS Inspector General had admitted lying to them about the case.
I followed the trial closely at the time and later visited personally with Ignacio Ramos after his incarceration in a federal prison in Ohio. Earlier while in a Mississippi federal facility, he had been beaten by five Hispanic inmates who recognized him from news accounts of the trial.
In July of 2007, both Senate and House committees investigated the matter.
A petition collected over 200,000 signatures asking for a pardon from President Bush.
Senators Diana Feinstein and John Cornyn asked Bush for a commutation to time served and release from prison. He refused.
On the last day of his Presidency, Bush agreed to the calls for commutation. Of course commuting a sentence does not wipe out the crime. Only a pardon can do that. And that is what is needed for these two men whose lives, and the lives of their families have been shattered by being held as political prisoners after a kangaroo court trial.
The whole scandalous story of the malicious treatment of Ramos and Compean by U.S. government prosecutors was revealed by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher in a speech on the House floor on March 19, 2007.
I am asking you to join in the effort to persuade President Trump to grant that pardon. We can start with letters and calls to the White House and sympathetic Members of Congress. Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos are not “dreamers” and do not have the mainstream media and the entire Democrat Party arguing their case; they are Americans who deserve a huuuge “We are sorry and apologize for what happened to you.”