Up until a few days ago, the names Ignacio Ramos, Jose Compean and Gilmer Hernandez were mere abstractions — people that talk show hosts like me used as examples of immigration policy gone awry. But at the recent “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” rally in Washington, DC, the absurdities were shown to effect real people. There are faces to these failures.
Face number one: Monica Ramos and her father, Joe Loya, who are fighting for justice in the Ramos/Compean case in which the two agents are now doing hard time for wounding an “unarmed” Mexican drug smuggler. Mr. Ramos has already been beaten in prison by imprisoned illegals that don’t like border patrol agents.
Both men contend that the smuggler appeared to be armed, but that did not matter to US Attorney Johnny Sutton who threw the book at them. Thirty-eight Republican congressmen have written to Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting hearings. So far, no hearings and no justice. Mrs. Ramos and Mr. Loya want to know why the agents are in jail while the smuggler, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, was granted immunity, continued to smuggle drugs, and sued the United States.
Face number two: A very young Ashley Hernandez, a new mother and wife of Deputy Sheriff Gilmer Hernandez, now serving a one-year sentence also at the hands of Johnny Sutton. Ashley is a lovely girl, soft-spoken and someone out of place on a radio interview. She is there because it is all she has left. It is heartbreaking to hear her tell of Gilmer, seeing his infant daughter Electra only through prison walls.
Mr. Hernandez’s crime, of course, was doing his job as a law enforcement agent, and running afoul of Mr. Sutton, who, in turn, is urged on by the Mexican government.
The incident began as a traffic stop of a Suburban that was speeding and ran a light. Deputy Hernandez pulled it over, but as he walked to the driver’s side, the vehicle peeled away, almost running over Hernandez’ foot. He fired at the rear tires, and blew one out, causing the vehicle to stop. Eight or nine illegal aliens poured out and ran into the sagebrush, but a bullet fragment struck a woman who was hiding in the back. That made the Mexican Consulate angry. It wrote letters demanding that the Bush administration prosecute.
Of course, Bush did as the Mexican government ordered. Following the usual lawsuit, the illegal woman is living in Austin — still illegal — and Ashley Hernandez has nowhere to turn but to her lawyer and talk radio.
Face number three: Patricia Butler, whose 17-year-old daughter Elizabeth was raped, strangled, and stabbed to death in her family’s car by an ex-boyfriend. The pain in Patty Butler’s face was evident as she talked into our microphone about the facts of the case. Ariel Menendez, convicted of first-degree murder, was not a mere construction worker as he had told Elizabeth. He was a 27-year-old illegal from Guatemala with a prior arrest record for felony drunk driving plus other minor offenses.
Mrs. Butler has a simple question: why wasn’t he deported?
Why indeed? No one from the Bush administration showed up at this event to answer that question, even though we were only blocks from the White House. And I never saw a Democratic member of Congress at the event even though we were just yards from the Capitol.
Several Republicans showed up including presidential candidates Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter and Representative Ted Poe from the Houston area who has worked overtime to secure pardons for Ramos, Compean, and Hernandez.
The question is: can a few GOP members of Congress and thirty-seven talk show hosts make a difference? Coverage of this event was minimal at best and no big name talk hosts like Limbaugh, Hannity or Dobbs showed up. Still, millions of people listened to the interviews, heard the stories, and through this event were brought into the lives of people like Monica Ramos, Ashley Hernandez and Patty Butler. As talk hosts, it was not only the least we can do; it’s pretty much all we can do.