Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

 Madam Speaker, when I was elected to Congress, I had an idea of how things worked in Washington. But after just a short while, I realized commonsense thinking wasn't exactly the ``norm.'' In fact, it was going to take some creative thinking to get things done. For over a year now, I have been one of the ones leading the charge to free Border Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. I think our Government prosecuted them for doing their job and gave a drug smuggler a free pass. After trying things the old way--I decided it was time for some Poetic Justice, time to turn the tables and put a new twist on an old idea.

Last week, I, along with Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter, sponsored an amendment to the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill to withhold funding from the Federal Bureau of Prisons to incarcerate Ramos and Compean. This effort to free these American heroes was supported across party lines and passed overwhelmingly by a voice vote.

Since repeated efforts to have them pardoned or their sentences commuted have gone unrecognized, I set out to find other ways for justice to prevail. By withholding funding to the Prison System specifically for the incarceration of Ramos and Compean, we have ``tied the hands that fund them.'' This does not change the outcome of their sentence, but it will allow them to remain free while their case makes its way through the appeals process.

As anyone knows that has followed this case, the administration has been less than supportive of the idea of a pardon or commutation. The idea of attaching this onto an appropriations bill is that the President isn't likely to veto the entire spending bill funding Federal law enforcement agencies because of this one amendment. Sometimes a little creative thinking allows you to beat them at their own game and save taxpayer money in the process.

As a former judge, I believe that it is important to uphold the law and I rarely argue with a jury's decision. However, the jury in this case wasn't privy to all of the facts and these two men were found guilty based on a partial presentation of the whole truth. You see, the prosecution's star witness was an illegal drug dealer who was fleeing Ramos and Compean after he brought in a million dollars worth of dope. The jury knew that, but what they didn't know was that he was given full immunity for that crime and an unlimited-use visa to come and go across the border unchecked anytime he pleased. And most important, another fact the U.S. attorney's office fought to keep the jury from hearing, was that during the trial he used that ``get-out-of-jail-free-card'' to bring in another load of dope. This is all information that the jury needed to know to judge the credibility of the witness.

This was the first time in history that Congress has intervened in such a way in a criminal case and it was not something that any Member of Congress took lightly. The precedent we are setting in Congress is that we stand for justice and I don't believe that this is something that we are likely to see happen again. Both Houses of Congress have investigated every aspect of this case and leaders from both parties have appealed to the President to take action--that alone is a unique occurrence.

If the President can spare Scooter Libby from prison, I think it is only appropriate to extend the same consideration to our lawmen fighting to secure our borders. Until then, we in Congress will continue to do our part to see that we right this wrong any way we can. After all, justice is the one thing we should always find.

And that's just the way it is.