Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rep. Duncan Hunter

What follows is the text of an e-mail I got from the Hunter campaign:

For immediate release:
July 17, 2007

Hunter will go to hearing with "fight" on his mind Seeking full pardon for border patrol agents Ramos and Compean (Washington, D.C.)...United States Congressman Duncan Hunter continues his pursuit of justice in the case of two border patrol agents that have been imprisoned. Hunter will attend and will testify for former agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean at a hearing to be held in Washington, D.C.

The agents allegedly shot a fleeing drug smuggler in the buttocks. They were subsequently given sentences of 11 and 12 years in prison, while federal prosecutors granted the drug smuggler immunity to return to the United States and testify against the law enforcement officers. Hunter exclaimed, "The circumstances of this case have outraged many Americans concerned with the problems of illegal immigration and drug-running from Mexico. I have and will continue to call for a full pardon from the President in this case."

In February 2005, the agents tried to stop a van driven by alleged drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila near the Mexico border. After a scuffle with Compean, Aldrete-Davila fled on foot. Ramos says he believes that he saw a gun, which the smuggler denies. Both agents fired at Aldrete-Davila, who fell, then continued his escape across the border. After he got away, Ramos and Compean filed a report on the 743-pounds of marijuana they found in the van, but not on the gunfire. As it turns out, Ramos had shot Aldrete-Davila in the buttocks. A Homeland Security agent heard about the episode went to Mexico and offered Aldrete-Davila immunity, if he would testify against Ramos and Compean.

U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, a Bush appointee, prosecuted the agents. In March, a jury found them guilty of assault with a dangerous weapon, discharge of a firearm during a violent crime, obstructing justice, lying about the incident, and willfully violating Aldrete-Davila's Fourth Amendment right to be free from illegal seizure.

Because there was gunfire, the mandatory-minimum prison sentence the agents will serve is 10 years. The U.S. Probation Office in El Paso, Texas, had recommended 20 years for each of the two agents. Aldrete-Davila, who faces no charges, is believed to be considering a civil suit against the agents and the United States Government. It is believed that he will seek $5M for the violation of his civil rights.

Hunter's congressional district is in southern California near the border with Mexico. He has led the Congressional campaign for border security, joined by dozens of his fellow members, and several activist groups, in calling for a full pardon for the duo.

White House spokesperson Tony Snow recently said he wanted "cooler heads" to prevail and "facts" to be presented in the flaring dispute over the sentences imposed on the two former agents. Following a failed request, lead by Hunter, to keep Compean and Ramos free on bail pending their appeal, the former agents surrendered to federal custody on January 17, 2007. Hunter noted "The very day they surrendered to federal custody, I recommended that agents Compean and Ramos be segregated and was assured they would be removed from the general population and close attention was being paid to their personal safety. The attack against agent Ramos indicates concerns for his personal safety and protection were ignored."

Hunter sent a letter to the President asking for an investigation into the attack against agent Ramos. The letter also requested the discharge that Bureau of Prisons Director Harley Lappin if facts show him to be derelict in his administration of his duties.

Hunter, the only Republican Presidential Candidate expected to attend the upcoming hearing, has been in the forefront on the immigration issue. He has led the way for tight border security and for extraditing the immigrants who are in this country illegally."

There's volumes written out there on the case, and as I have little to add to it, I'll simply state: this is a good example of leadership on Hunter's part. While the release seems hastily prepared and probably not as eloquent as it could be, my hat is off to Hunter on the issue.

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