Defending Those Who Defend Us

On February 17, 2005, Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean were doing what they do everyday — patrolling our Southwest border.  Little did they know that by doing their jobs to the best of their ability, their lives would dramatically change for the worse.

Ramos and Compean intercepted a van transporting 743 pounds of marijuana.  When the illegal drug smuggler attempted to escape into Mexico, the agents fired, wounding him.  This wound did not prohibit the perpetrator from escaping into Mexico.  

Following this exchange, the agents failed to report the discharge of their firearms.  For this administrative oversight, Ramos and Compean have now been convicted and sentenced to serve 11 and 12 year prison terms, respectively.  

Despite the fact that the alleged victim was attempting to enter the United States illegally while smuggling drugs, the Justice Department sent investigators into Mexico, tracked him down, and offered him immunity in exchange for his testimony against Ramos and Compean.

The grotesque misdirection of our judicial system in this case cannot be overstated.  As a former practicing attorney, I am particularly disturbed that our judicial laws are being perverted in such a way.  

Ramos and Compean are heroes.  Our border agents risk their lives to uphold our immigration laws and defend our borders.  If the conviction of Ramos and Compean is an indication of how our government will repay them, we can be certain good men and women will soon flee the ranks of border patrol service.

I am proud to join with Congressman Ted Poe and other Members of Congress in calling on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to release these men on bail pending their appeal.  I am confident that after a full and fair appeals process, Ramos and Compean will be cleared of any wrongdoing.  Until that time, they should be treated with dignity and allowed to stay with their families.

As Congress continues to deal with the growing problem of illegal immigration, our government must stand with those who are already working to protect us.  Convicting Ramos and Compean is a slap in the face to every American who respects the rule of law and expects our government to enforce its own laws.

Ramos and Compean are scheduled to begin their sentences on January 17.  The Justice Department has exactly one week to prove it will stand with America’s heroes — not the criminals who make a mockery of our judicial system.