January 21, 2009

Crapo, Simpson Disappointed That Vela Did Not Receive A Pardon

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and Congressman Mike Simpson were disappointed to learn that Sgt. Evan Vela did not make the list of pardons that President Bush made during his final hours as President.

"My heart goes out to Sgt. Vela and his family," said Simpson. "I know they worked hard to get this case in front of President Bush and had high hopes of receiving a Presidential Pardon. I will continue to work with the Vela family on this important matter."

Crapo, who advocated for the pardon again in a last-minute phone call to President Bush at Camp David over the weekend, said, "Sgt. Vela and his family have been down a long road regarding this matter, and I share in their disappointment over this outcome. As this case moves forward through the appeal process, I will continue to pursue every effort to ensure that Sgt. Vela receives fair and equitable consideration."

In his last hours in office, Bush did issue two commutations that pleased Simpson, Crapo and many other Members of Congress. President George W. Bush commuted the prison sentences of two U.S. Border Patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, who are both presently serving their terms.

The two agents were tried for shooting a Mexican drug smuggler. Their conviction in 2006 generated widespread concern from Americans, who felt the agents were treated too harshly for simply doing their jobs. Agent Ramos was given an 11-year prison sentence, and Agent Compean received a 12-year sentence. Under the commutation, their prison sentences will expire on March 20.

"I have joined my colleagues numerous times requesting a pardon for these two agents," said Simpson. "They were serving and protecting their nation and in return, they were placed in the same jail with the criminals they've arrested, I am pleased their unjust sentence will come to an end soon."

"Protecting our borders is a top national security priority, and the men and women of the Border Patrol are on the front lines of that battle," Crapo said. "As such, they must have our support as they perform their assigned duties to protect those borders."