Mr. Speaker, well, it has finally happened. Mr. Speaker, President Bush, in one of his last acts as President of the United States, commuted the sentences of political prisoners Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean who were just doing their job down on the violent Texas-Mexico border when they were prosecuted because they happened to shoot a drug dealer who was smuggling in $750,000 worth of narcotics.
It is good that President Bush has commuted their sentence. We hope to press further with the new President, President Obama, and get a complete pardon for these two individuals. But there already has been an effect of this commutation. You see right away, the Mexican government, in its self-righteous indignation, disapproves of the commutation of Ramos and Compean. Obviously, if the Mexican government is opposed to it, President Bush did the right thing. And who cares what the Mexican Government thinks about the United States enforcing its dignity and enforcing the rule of law and keeping drug smugglers from Mexico out of coming into the United States. So that was obviously the right decision if the Mexican Government is opposed to President Bush's decision.
But also, it will have an effect, hopefully, on our border agents. You see, since this case and other cases where our Federal Government chooses to prosecute border protectors instead of prosecuting criminals who come into the United States, like drug smugglers, since that has occurred so often, our border protectors have been reluctant to enforce the rule of law. And when they see a situation on the border from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas, that may turn out to be violent, they have backed off. And the reason they have backed off is because our Federal Government refuses to protect them when they get themselves in a scrape protecting us and the dignity of the United States. Now maybe our Federal Government will prosecute criminals, drug smugglers, human smugglers who come into the United States, emphasize prosecuting them rather than emphasizing prosecuting Border Patrol agents who are doing their job just to protect the rest of us.
One statistic, Mr. Speaker. Last year, 2008, 1,097 violent assaults were committed against American Border Patrol agents on the southern border of the United States. Of course we don't read about that in the newspaper. We only read about the drug dealers whoget shot by our Border Patrol agents. So 1,097 violent assaults against people who we send down to that violent border to protect us from criminals that are coming into the United States. Three a day occur, and we can suspect that probably three a day have occurred this year. It is important that our government prosecute those assaults, those people who commit crimes against our border agents when they sneak into the United States, many of them to commit crimes in the United States.
It has also gotten so violent on the Texas border that a local sheriff in Hildago County, Lupe Trevino, has issued automatic weapons to his sheriff's deputies, and has told them to use those weapons if they are fired upon. That is a new policy. That is how violent the border is, and they are all down there just protecting us.
One of the reasons they protect us is because of America's unfortunate but tremendous greed for illicit drugs. And because we have an appetite for narcotics in this United States, the drug dealers are willing to supply them. That is another issue. This country has to get around to solving that appetite that we have as a Nation for illicit drugs.
So we have that appetite and we send our Border Patrol agents down to the border to keep those drugs from coming into the United States, and then if one of them gets in a scrape, we prosecute them rather than the drug dealers. Maybe those times have changed because of this commutation. I certainly hope so.
And we certainly can't expect the Mexican Government to do their part. We hear constant reports of corruption in Mexico, especially with Mexican officials on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande River. That is unfortunate because they have an obligation to protect Mexican citizens as well as we on this side have an obligation to protect American citizens.
Border protectors need to know we support them. Back in the days of Vietnam, some of us remember those days when our troops came home, how they were treated. They were treated with utmost disrespect, unfortunately. And we have changed. Our country has changed. We show great respect to our troops that are in Afghanistan and Kosovo and Iraq, and we should because they are protecting us.
Our border protectors down on the border, our Border Patrol agents and our border sheriffs, need to know that America stands behind them as well because they are fighting a war just as important and just as violent as those troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are fighting. And they need to know that we will support them when they do their job, when they enforce the rule of law to keep people out of this country that are coming over here to smuggle drugs. Our Federal Government needs to get on the right side of the border war.
And that's just the way it is.
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