Bush commutes sentences of former US border agents

WASHINGTON (AP) - Here's reaction to President George W. Bush
today granting early prison releases to two now-former U.S. Border
Patrol agents in West Texas.

The convictions of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, for shooting a fleeing Mexican drug dealer in 2005, fueled the national debate over illegal immigration.

Compean and Ramos were convicted of shooting admitted drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete Davila in the buttocks as he fled across the Rio Grande, away from a van of marijuana. He remains in a low-security prison in Fort Worth.

The two agents from El Paso each received more than 10 years in prison for the shooting, which they tried to cover up. They'll be released within two months.

........

-- Monica Ramos says Bush "has given us a chance to be a family again and I want to thank him for that." She's married to the imprisoned ex-agent.

-- U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes of El Paso applauded the president's decision.

Reyes says he does not condone the actions of the two ex-agents, but believes the mandatory 10-year sentencing guidelines used in this case were excessive.

Reyes is a former Border Patrol agent.

-- Ramos father-in-law Joe Loya says, quote: "After four years of fighting this, it's taken a toll on me and my daughter, and really the whole family." Loya says he's received tens of thousands of supportive e-mails and spent much of the past two years traveling the country to speak about the case.

He said his daughter, Monica Ramos, called from New York after
learning the news that her husband soon would be released from a
federal prison just outside Phoenix.

-- Bob Baskett, Compean's attorney in Dallas, cited widespread congressional support from the bipartisan congressional delegation from Texas. Baskett says: "I think the president did the right thing."

-- David Botsford, a lawyer for Ramos in Austin, said he'd been guardedly optimistic that the commutations would be granted because
of the support from Congress and the thousands of people who had
sent letters of concern. Botsford says the president has shown
"he's a compassionate man."

-- Texas Congressman John Culberson had called the conviction of the agents a "grotesque injustice." Culberson says he and other lawmakers initially had hoped to have the agents pardoned, but resistance at the White House to a pardon led to lawmakers seeking
the commutation.

Culberson helped gather signatures from 31 of the 34 current members of the Texas congressional delegation and two former delegation members for a letter asking Bush for the commutations.

Culberson hand-delivered the letter to the White House last week.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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