Sunday, February 04, 2007

HR 563 to give amnesty to border agents PASSES

I think things are turning around.. this will now move to the Senate. One curious thing is

State Republican Parties Join Calls To Free Border Agents
By Fred Lucas Staff Writer
February 01, 2007

( - A growing number of Republicans are calling on President Bush to pardon two U.S. Border Patrol agents who shot and wounded a Mexican man suspected of smuggling drugs into this country. Republican parties in two states have now weighed in on the matter.

The case sparked public outrage and prompted three congressional proposals to free agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who this month began serving prison sentences of 11 and 12 years, respectively.

At an Arizona Republican Party Convention at the weekend, delegates unanimously approved a resolution urging Congress to approve House Resolution 563, which seeks to pardon Ramos and Compean.

It's typically up to the president to issue pardons, but -- as Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said after introducing the bill -- the authority of Congress to pardon has not yet been tested in the courts. Hunter's bill has 70 co-sponsors.

The Arizona resolution said the state GOP "strongly supports our Border Patrol agents and H.R. 563."

Not every Arizona Republican backs that position, however.

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) opposes both his state party's resolution and the proposal in Congress to pardon the individuals.

"The two men were convicted by a court of law and the congressman respects the court's decision," Flake spokesman Matt Specht said Wednesday.

Meanwhile in Texas, where the case was prosecuted, about 3,100 Republicans on the state GOP's e-mail list have responded to an online petition to pardon the two agents. The petition, organized by the state party, was sent directly to the White House.

Hans Klingler, spokesman for the Texas Republican Party, insisted that the petition was not an attempt by the state party itself to call for a pardon.

"We heard the grassroots around the state and presented this on-line petition to the president," Klingler told Cybercast News Service. "We did not take a position as a party. We wanted to give the grassroots the power to express themselves."

President Bush said earlier this month he would consider granting a pardon to the two agents after reviewing the facts of the case.

The California Republican Party has not called for action in the matter, but Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) said he would consider pushing for something similar.

"We need to put pressure on the president from as many different directions as possible," Rohrabacher told Cybercast News Service. "Anybody who wants to sign a petition or call the White House should do so, and anybody who wants to start a petition or start an effort to call the White House should do so. I'm supportive of all those efforts.

"There aren't pejorative words bad enough to describe President Bush's attitude if he permits these Border Patrol agents to continue to languish in prison and their families destroyed," he added.

Much of the anger stems not only from the fact that a case was brought against the agents, but the tenacity with which U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton pursued the matter. He tracked down Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, the Mexican who was shot while fleeing the federal border agents, and offered him immunity in exchange for his testimony against the agents.

The agents encountered Aldrete-Davila in Texas in February 2005. He was driving a van later found to contain 743 pounds of marijuana. When the Aldrete-Davila abandoned the vehicle and tried to run back into Mexico, the agents shot him in the buttocks.

After the shooting, the agents discarded their spent shell casings and didn't inform their supervisor about the incident.

Sutton contends that his office has the responsibility to uphold the rule of law, even when it extends to law enforcement agents. He stressed the fact that the smuggler was unarmed when fleeing and that the agents attempted to cover up their crime.

Further, Sutton said, the smuggler left no fingerprints in the van containing 743 pounds of marijuana, and thus the government gave nothing away in granting him an immunity deal.

The agents' defense argued unsuccessfully that Compean and Ramos believed Aldrete-Davila was armed.

After a two-week trial, Ramos and Compean were convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with serious bodily injury, discharge of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, willfully violating the illegal immigrant's constitutional rights, lying about the incident and failing to report the truth.

Meanwhile, Aldrete-Davila is preparing to sue the federal government for $5 million for violating his constitutional rights (see related story).

The transcript of the trial has not yet been released to the public. Further, members of Congress have been unsuccessful in obtaining information about the case from the Justice Department.

Sutton told Cybercast News Service last week that evidence of a subsequent drug smuggling offense was brought up at the trial of the two agents but was not allowed to be discussed because the second matter was under investigation and not part of the original immunity deal.

In the alleged second offense, Aldrete-Davila reportedly tried to smuggle 1,000 pounds of marijuana into the United States.


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