Washington, Nov. 2 -
Mr. Speaker, in the dangerous border region between Mexico and Texas, in the year 2008, outlaws from Mexico were caught smuggling marijuana into the United States, and they were caught by the Border Patrol agents.
Border Patrol Agent Jesus Diaz’s actions later have resulted in him being sentenced recently to 2 years in a Federal penitentiary. On October 20 of this year, District Judge Ludham sentenced Diaz to 24 months in prison because the agent is alleged to have been too rough in his handling of one of the drug smugglers who was arrested; and, also, Diaz allegedly later lied about the incident to investigators.
Now, what Diaz is accused of is pulling the suspect’s handcuffs back and pushing the suspect to the ground while pressing the suspect’s back with his knee in order to get him to comply with the Border Patrol agent’s orders. Prior to the incident the suspect had illegally crossed into Texas by boat with a large shipment of marijuana, and he was accompanied by a member of the notorious MS-13 gang.
The U.S. Government had a choice to make; Prosecute the illegal drug smuggler or prosecute the Border Patrol agent. The United States Government chose poorly. The Mexican Government demanded that Diaz be prosecuted by our government, and he was.
To top it off, the suspect was told he would not be prosecuted for illegally coming into the United States or for the marijuana he brought into the United States in return for his testimony against Border Patrol Agent Diaz.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I’m not here today to comment on whether or not Jesus Diaz used proper police procedure when he detained the suspect or whether the jury or the judge made a mistake. Those issues will be dealt with on appeal. However, it seems to me that this case should not have been prosecuted as a crime. It should have been dealt with and handled administratively within the U.S. Border Patrol, and the drug smuggler should have been prosecuted.
The U.S. Federal Government had its priorities wrong. The National Border Patrol Council, which represents 17,000 of our Border Patrol agents, our border protectors, they agree. They argue that a situation like this should have been handled administratively and did not rise to the level of criminal conduct. But millions of taxpayer dollars and thousands of man-hours were expended to obtain a 24-month sentence and a conviction for Diaz, who had already spent 8 months in custody.
There is more. An internal investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Professional Responsibility both cleared Agent Diaz of any wrong doing in the 2008 incident.
But Mexico would have none of this and demanded and got its way.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office went after Border Patrol agent Jesus Diaz. And his case was tired in the western district of Texas, a jurisdiction that has a history of, in my opinion, unfairly targeting border protectors for prosecution. You remember, this is the same jurisdiction that prosecuted Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean for allegedly shooting drug smuggler as he ran away from the agents while they tried to apprehend him. It took a Presidential commutation in 2009 to finally end the persecution of these two agents, and millions of Federal dollars were wasted on this case.
Then there’s a similar case where Deputy Sheriff Gilmer Hernandez was prosecuted for firing his weapon at a fleeing vehicle that had tried to run him over. Same jurisdiction.
But the question we must ask ourselves is why the Federal Government is spending time and money to prosecute our Border Patrol agents who put their lives on the line every day down there on the border of the U.S. and Mexico instead of spending time and money and resources to enforce immigration laws in this country.
When ICE Director Morton and Secretary Napolitano from Homeland Security recently testified in front of the Judiciary Committee, they both said they just didn’t have the money or the resources to fully enforce immigration laws. They, in essence, in my opinion, granted amnesty or parole to thousands of illegals in the United States. But they have the money to go after Border Patrol agents.
Maybe they should use some of that prosecutorial discretion they’re so proud of to prosecute people who cross the border into the United States with drugs over prosecuting Border Patrol agents.
In this case, the United States Government is on the wrong side of the border war. The U.S. Attorney’s Office should quit being the voice of Mexico and be the voice of America. We should secure the border and keep the drug smugglers from having their way, and don’t give them a get-out-of-jail-free card. It’s time to get our money and our priorities straight. Let’s stop going after the good guys and spend time and money going after the bad guys.
And that’s just the way it is.