Lady Justice has tossed aside her blindfold and tipped her scale. A border-crossing drug smuggler walks free while the officer who arrested him has been jailed. In the age of Obama, the law has been turned upside down.
U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jesus E. Diaz Jr. is set to spend the next two years behind bars after being sentenced last month for what the Justice Department called deprivation of an illegal-immigrant suspect’s constitutional right to freedom from the use of unreasonable force. The unnamed Mexican suspect, who was 15 at the time of his arrest in 2008, received immunity from drug-smuggling and illegal-entry charges for his testimony against the American Border Patrol agent who intercepted him near Eagle Pass, Texas.
Mr. Diaz was nailed for purportedly lifting the teenager’s handcuffed hands over his head and putting his knee in the boy’s back. His attorneys argued at trial that the suspect bore no evidence of injury and the only marks were caused by the shoulder straps of a backpack laden with marijuana found at the arrest site. The Mexican Consulate in Texas interviewed the suspect following the arrest. Based on his account, the Mexican government urged that the agent be prosecuted. U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s Justice Department did just that.
Outraged lawmakers sent a letter to President Obama on Thursday signed by 37 members of Congress and calling the prosecution of Mr. Diaz “unfair and excessively disproportionate.” The group, led by Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, wrote, “We certainly do not condone the use of excessive or unreasonable force; however, the facts in this case do not indicate the drug smuggler was harmed during the arrest or that excessive force was used.”
Lawmakers argued that Mr. Diaz previously had been found blameless by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Professional Responsibility. A year later, a contradictory report from U.S. Customs and Border Protection resulted in the charges that led to the agent’s prosecution.
“This prosecution cannot be allowed to stand,” Mr. Hunter said in a statement. “Someone - whether the attorney general or the president - needs to provide answers on why a two-year prison term is justified.”
Piling on while Mr. Diaz languishes in prison, the Justice Department has demanded that his wife, also a Border Patrol agent, immediately pay a nearly $7,000 fine that was imposed at his sentencing, even though a judge granted a grace period. Finally, the ruined lawman has received notice that he has been terminated from the Border Patrol.
In a separate case, Mr. Holder has made duplicitous statements to Congress about his knowledge of the Operation Fast and Furious gun-running scheme, which led to the death of a Border Patrol agent. That scandal, coupled with the department’s decision to prosecute Mr. Diaz and let an illegal-immigrant drug smuggler go free, serves as a shocking reminder of the contempt with which this administration holds the issue of border security.
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