Thursday, March 22, 2007

In Praise of Border Patrol Agents

If the names Compean and Ramos sound familiar, you’ll be appalled but probably not surprised at this AP story from Donna, Texas.

After spotting four bundles of marijuana, totaling 305 pounds, on a river bank near the Rio Grande River, two Border Patrol agents went in for a closer look. They came under fire, and returned it, but their assailants fled to the Mexican shore. This is the second time this year that agents have been shot at in this no man’s land.

The first time was in February 2005, when two different agents, Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos, spied a suspicious van near the Texas-Mexican border. The agents gave chase, and when the van stopped on a levee, the driver fled. Ordered to halt, the driver continued to run, and when he eventually paused, he brandished what looked like a gun. The agents fired on him, and hit him in the buttocks.

When the dust settled, the driver, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, turned out to be an illegal immigrant trying to smuggle almost 800 pounds of marijuana into the United States. What’s worse, whereas Aldrete-Davila received immunity to testify against the agents—and is now suing the government for $5 million—the agents are now serving 11 and 12-year prison sentences.

Unlike the Compean-Ramos affair, no one was injured yesterday. But the fact remains that until Congress gets serious about a solution, the pattern of drug-smuggling illegals escaping justice will only get worse.

The reason is painfully obvious: America’s borders are undermanned, and thus invite those to whom the rule of law does not matter to storm our country.

Border Patrol agents risk their lives every day for their country. There is a dirty and difficult business, in the middle of the desert, against impossible odds. Their thankless mission is of the highest importance—to safeguard the homeland—and their repeated successes go unnoticed. Yet when controversy emerges, they become the fall guys. Men like Compean and Ramos, and the agents from yesterday, deserve our deepest gratitude and respect, not a blind eye.

For more on the illegal immigration crisis, check out Border War: The Battle over Illegal Immigration (2006), a film by Citizens United that chronicles the life of a Border Patrol agent, among others, patrolling our southern border.