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GOP's Cornyn Makes Final Plea to Free Border Agents

By Dave Eberhart   |   Wednesday, 14 Jan 2009 12:26 PM

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, made a final plea this week to President George Bush to commute the sentences of jailed U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.

“Because of the excesses of the prosecution against them, they will continue to sit alone in those cells for another decade,” Cornyn wrote, according to a report in the WorldNetDaily. “That is unless President Bush commutes their unjust sentences. In his remaining days as president, I ask President Bush to show mercy and use his clemency power to give back Agents Ramos and Compean the next 10 years of their lives.”

Cornyn joins Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and many other lawmakers who have written letters to Bush urging him to commute the agents’ sentences.

“I have reached the conclusion as a senator, a former judge, and a citizen, that the loss of their jobs and the prison time they have already served has been more than enough punishment,” Cornyn wrote. “This is a case of prosecutorial overreaching.”

Cornyn said Ramos and Compean were charged with a federal gun crime that many have argued was not meant to apply to law enforcement officers in the line of duty.

“As a result, the penalty levied on these men was grossly excessive,” he wrote.

Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, has also joined the ranks of the last-minute petitioners who must see their relief granted in the very few days until the end of President Bush’s term in office.

“These officers made mistakes, but their sentences were far too harsh. They have served enough time for their convictions,” Brady said, according to a report in the Montgomery County Courier. "President Bush needs to relieve these officers of the remainder of their sentences.”

Compean and Ramos were arrested following a shooting incident along the Rio Grande River in Texas on Feb. 17, 2005.

Mexican national Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila entered the country illegally in a van carrying 743 pounds of marijuana. When the two agents confronted him, he scuffled with them and tried to flee back across the border. The agents opened fire, hitting Aldrete-Davila in the buttocks, but but he continued to flee.

It is illegal for federal agents to fire upon fleeing felons or suspects. The agents later said they saw a shiny object in Aldrete-Davila’s hand they thought was a gun.

After a two-week jury trial, Ramos and Compean were convicted in March 2006 in federal court in El Paso on several charges, including assault with a deadly weapon, obstruction of justice — for failing to report the incident properly — and a civil rights violation. The agents were acquitted of the most serious offense, assault with intent to commit murder.

In October 2006, Ramos, who was nominated to be Border Patrol Agent of the Year, was sentenced to 11 years and one day in prison, and Compean received a 12-year sentence.

Aldrete-Davila was again caught smuggling marijuana while he was waiting to testify against the agents.

In February 2007, a gang of illegal immigrants severely beat Ramos while he was in prison, and he and Compean were placed in solitary confinement for their own protection.

On Nov. 12, in a review of sentence required after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decided this year to drop one of the pair’s convictions, a federal judge in El Paso resentenced Compean to 10 years for using a firearm in the course of a felony and two years more for assault and other charges, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle.

The next day, Ramos was resentenced to the same 11-year prison sentence originally imposed on him, the El Paso Times reported.

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