Way In.. No Way Out
By Sheila Samples
25 January, 2007
"We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion:
the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while
the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest
periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force." --
Ayn Rand, The Nature of Government
I have no desire to get embroiled
in the current tangled debate on immigration, either legal or illegal.
However, I have watched with interest the intense campaign for President
Bush first to intervene in the trial of two border patrol agents accused
of shooting a suspected Mexican drug dealer as he fled, and then to
pardon the agents for the crime after they were convicted.
CNN's Lou Dobbs has led the
crusade against illegal immigration for the past several years, and
seems to be in the camp that believes if you're an immigrant and you're
illegal, the gloves come off. You deserve what you get. I agree with
Dobbs that our borders must be secured and that Mexicans entering our
country legally should be welcomed as they have been throughout our
history. However, those like Osvaldo Aldrete Davila who slip across
the border illegally should be stopped and sent back home -- not shot
as they are trying to escape.
The agents, Ignacio Ramos
and Jose Alonso Compean, entered prison last week amid shrieks of injustice,
to begin serving sentences of 11 and 12 years. They were convicted not
only of shooting Davila, who was unarmed and running away, but of destroying
evidence, covering up a crime scene and filing false reports concerning
Right-wing pundits and politicians
on both sides of the aisle seeking political gain are clamoring for
Bush to pardon Ramos and Compean for their "act of courage"
and to ignore the laws they broke and the crimes they committed.. Although
Congress has never bestowed a pardon on anyone convicted of a crime,
in a ploy to get attention last week, presidential hopeful Duncan Hunter
(R-Calif.) introduced a bill demanding that Congress, rather than Bush,
That's not likely to happen,
so the pressure remains on Bush. In an interview in El Paso last Thursday,
Bush was asked if he would consider pardoning the two agents. In classic
Bush bumblespeech, he non-replied, “There are standards that need
to be met in law enforcement, and according to a jury of their peers,
these officers violated some standards.”
Bush then stammered, “On
this case, people need to take a hard look at the facts, at the evidence
that the jury looked at, as well as a judge. And that’s -- I will
do the same thing. Now, there’s a process for pardons,”
he continued. “I mean, it’s got to work its way through
a system here in government. But I just want people to take a sober
look at the reality. It’s a case, as you said, it’s got
a lot of emotions.”
Upon hearing this, news sites
such as NewsMax.com,
jumped out with, "Bush Eyes Pardon for Border Patrolmen,"
and announced, "President Bush on Thursday said a pardon was possible
for two Border Patrol agents serving prison sentences for shooting a
Mexican drug dealer as he fled and then covering up the crime..."
For NewsMax to reach such
a conclusion from Bush's twisted rhetoric is not only a stretch of the
imagination, it's a classic example of wishful thinking. The "standards"
that the two agents "violated" were laws they broke, for which
they were convicted by a jury of their peers. Ramos and Compean are
criminals. According to the Justice Department, the "process for
pardons" that Bush says has to "work its way through a system
here in government" is that once convicted, a criminal is not even
eligible for consideration to be pardoned for a period of at least five
The bad news is that even
if Bush, who is determined to work not above the law but outside the
law, decides to "eye" pardons for the two agents, he will
rely on the recommendation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Given
the Bush-Gonzales history of compassion for their fellow human beings,
it's a slam-dunk that Ramos and Compean will remain incarcerated. The
good news is they were not sentenced to death...
The only coherent statement
Bush made is that the border patrol case has "got a lot of emotions."
I don't pretend to understand all I know about illegal immigration,
but it seems likely those emotions will get uglier and more intense
if this administration continues to nod and wink at securing the border
between the United States and Mexico. If there is a policy other than
to give no-bid contracts to Halliburton to build a network of detention
camps where immigrants will be held indefinitely, I'm not aware of it.
I find it difficult to believe that these camps are cheaper -- more
humane -- than simply closing the border to illegal entry.
Those who cry that the border
between Mexico and the United States stretches for 2,000 miles and is
all but impossible to control apparently are unaware of the new
passport requirements that go into effect on January 23.
Air travelers going to or from the US, Canada, Mexico, the Carribbean
and Bermuda must have passports.
Those who have no problem
with them coming for air travelers should know that as early as January
2008, they're coming back for the rest of us. According to just the
basics, "All persons -- including U.S. citizens -- traveling between
the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean,
and Bermuda by land or sea (including ferries), may be required to present
a valid passport or other documents as determined by the Department
of Homeland Security."
Americans who cherish freedom
would do well to stop stumbling around in the trees and forests of the
illegal immigration debate and see that the Bush administration is well
on its way to closing the borders of the entire nation, not only to
people trying to get in, but to citizens trying to get out. For the
millions who don't travel, it's probably no big deal -- they long for
the tranquility of servitude and do not recognize shouts coming from
the rest of us as a desperate rattling of chains.
Unfortunately, securing the
homeland is a two-edged sword that the Bush administration and military
establishment profiteers are holding firmly over our heads. It's time
Americans realized that we are in danger of being herded into a national
detention camp in which there are no pardons, and from which there is
Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian
US Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor for
a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at: email@example.com
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