Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Prison Term Upheld for Texas Border Agents

The raid on the FLDS ranch is far from being the only legal story originating in Texas that has gained national attention. I imagine most readers are familiar with the case involving two U.S. Border Patrol Agents who shot an unarmed illegal immigrant in El Paso, Texas three years ago. The two agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, received eleven and twelve years (respectively) of prison time after being found guilty on charges of assault, violation of civil rights, use of a firearm during a crime of violence and obstruction of justice. The sentences were upheld yesterday by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans and the controversy surrounding these two men rages on.

Osvaldo Aldrete Davila, the shooting victim, had been pulled over and found to be driving a van filled with 743 pounds of marijuana. He was fleeing towards the Mexico border when shot from behind by the two agents. Advocates of stricter border control hailed the two agents as heroes and have encouraged President Bush to pardon the men ever since the sentence was first handed down in October 2006. On the other hand, immigrant rights advocates believe that justice was done in an instance of abused power. With which side of this controversial topic do you agree?

Despite the emotional arguments made by politicians and bloggers in favor of Ramos and Compean, the Appeals Court wrote in its decision that, ''The government's evidence showed that the agents had no reason to shoot the drug smuggler … that he posed no physical threat to either officer.” Therefore, at least for now, the grassroots efforts to justify the actions of the border agents have not been successful.

At Bertolino LLP, we have attorneys in our Austin, Houston, and San Antonio offices who specialize in immigration law. If this hot-button issue has affected your life, please contact us and let’s see how we can help.

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