Never fail to protest Injustice
By Gina Parker Ford
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel stated, There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. In the case of the imprisoned former border agents Ignacio Ramos and Alonso Compean, now is our time to protest.
Despite an outcry from Republicans and Democrats, the White House continues to remain mute on pardoning these agents after they were sentenced to 11 and 12 year federal prison terms. As Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) pointedly remarked, The Ramos and Compean conviction has been the greatest misjustice that I have seen, and I have seen a lot.
The two agents were convicted in January after shooting a drug smuggler along the border near El Paso, Texas. The drug smuggler was injured in the shooting, but quickly fled back across the border to a waiting van. Upon further investigation, the agents found nearly 750 pounds of marijuana in his van, which as Representative Rohrabacher further noted, more than a million dollars in illegal drugs were stopped from being sold to our children.
Although both agents testified in court that the smuggler was armed and that they were in fear of their lives after a high speed chase, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton was able to beguile himself and the jury into believing the illegal drug smuggler. Yes, Sutton gave the smuggler full immunity for his illegal activities in exchange for the smugglers testimony against the agents. This action of U.S. Attorney Sutton, however, took a concerted effort on his part to find the smuggler in Mexico. After tracking him down, Sutton not only let the smuggler off the hook for the drugs, but also he provided the smuggler with an all access pass into the United States for interviews by attorneys.
The free pass granted to the smuggler may sound harmless enough, but on one of the smugglers trips across the border for interviews, the smuggler once again smuggled illegal drugs. This little tid-bit of information was not released during the trial of the Border Patrol agents, however, as it might taint the smugglers testimony. Furthermore, the judge decided to place a gag order on all parties because the smuggler had stated that he and his friends considered hosting a hunting party to shoot Border Patrol agents!
CNN Correspondent Lou Dobbs correctly assessed the service and the punishment of Agents Ramos and Compean when he stated: The two Border Patrol agents received excessive sentence by any reasonable standard of justice. The agents were serving their nation in a war zone along our southern border. From drugs to terrorists, our porous northern and southern borders are one of our greatest security threats! So, just what message is the U.S. Department of Justice sending to the men and women who serve along the border daily?
T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council has correctly pointed out: they (Ramos and Compean) committed no crime. They were simply defending themselves against an armed drug smuggler. From February 1, 2005 to June 30, 2007, there were 1,982 incidents in which Border Patrol agents were assaulted. Can any of the Border Patrol agents now truly believe that they can defend themselves and our nation without the possibility of going to prison for over a decade?
Even though the two agents are now awaiting their appeals behind bars, Congress has heard the cries of the people. On July 25th, the House voted by voice to block the Bureau of Prisons from keeping the agents in prison. Representative Ted Poe, R-Texas explained, What this does is release these two individuals while the appeal goes on, as it blocks the Bureau from spending any money to incarcerate them. The Senate Judiciary Committee also held a hearing last week to investigate further this atrocious sentence. The Committee Chair, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) as well as Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) not only grilled U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, but also committed to writing President Bush to request his commutation of the agents sentences.
Additionally, Presidential hopeful Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has written H.R. 563, which would vacate the sentences of both agents. The bill currently has 102 co-sponsors and is awaiting further review by the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.
Although our protests are being heard, we cannot give up until justice prevails. Keep calling your representatives in Washington, and keep asking President Bush to commute the sentences of these two agents. Agents Ramos and Compean were protecting and serving their country; we must not sit idly by as they needlessly suffer in prison. Edmund Burke stated it best: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.