Ramos and Compean

RAMOS AND COMPEAN…. I knew we’d see more pardons.

President George W. Bush has commuted the prison sentences of two former Border Patrol guards whose convictions for shooting a Mexican drug dealer ignited debate about illegal immigration.

Bush’s act of clemency on Monday for Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean was a victory for Democratic and Republican members of Congress and others who pleaded with the president to pardon the men or at least commute their sentences.

Ramos and Compean are each serving sentences of more than 10 years for shooting an unarmed illegal immigrant as he was fleeing an abandoned marijuana load in 2005, then trying to cover it up.

Of all of Bush’s end-of-presidency clemency decisions, this is easily the biggest.

As Dafna Linzer explained a while back, Ramos and Compean “are serving sentences of 11 and 12 years, respectively, for the nonfatal shooting in the back of an unarmed Mexican drug runner in February 2005. A jury found the two border patrolmen then tried to cover up the shooting.”

Slowly but surely, the two became a cause celebre of sorts for several members of Congress, conservative media figures like Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs, conservative news outlets, and conservatives groups (including the John Birch Society).

This is not to say it was entirely a partisan matter. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), for example, reportedly contacted the White House about this matter, in support of clemency, but the reaction today will probably be the loudest on the right, and the response will be very positive.

Update: Alex Koppelman, who knows a lot more about the Ramos/Compean controversy than I do, has an item that’s worth checking out. Also, be sure to read Alex’s 2007 article about the case.