WASHINGTON, DC (January 9, 2004) - U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) called on President George W. Bush to urge Mexican President Vicente Fox to reverse his country's policy of refusing to extradite Mexican nationals who have committed crimes in the United States unless American prosecutors agree not to pursue the death penalty or a "life" sentence. Presidents Bush and Fox will be attending the Special Summit of the Americas in Monterrey, Mexico on January 12-13.
"The refusal by the Mexican government to extradite has allowed prosecutors only a number of unsatisfactory options: 1) to refuse to seek extradition and allow murderers, rapists, child molesters, and other criminals to escape justice by fleeing to Mexico; 2) to seek extradition but agree not to seek a life sentence; or 3) to allow prosecution under Mexican law, with no guarantee of an aggressive prosecution of the case. Unfortunately, these options do not allow states or the federal government to ensure that our laws are carried out appropriately and in many cases, crimes have gone unpunished." Rep Schiff said today, adding, "The family of Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff David March deserves better."
Schiff sent the following letter to President Bush, which was signed by Schiff and thirty-two other members of the House. It was sent to the White House on Friday, January 9th.
Dear President Bush:
In June of 2002, thirty-seven Members of the California Congressional Delegation wrote to you expressing their concern about Mexico's refusal to extradite Mexican nationals, who have committed murder, to the United States for prosecution. On the eve of your trip to Mexico to attend the Summit of the Americas, we write to urge you to bring this problem to the attention of Mexican President Vicente Fox.
Mexico's policy of non-extradition inhibits our ability to pursue justice. As you know, the Mexican government continues to refuse to extradite Mexican nationals who have committed crimes in the United States unless American prosecutors agree not to pursue the death penalty or a "life" sentence.
This refusal has led prosecutors either to seek lesser charges, to seek justice under Article IV prosecution - where there would be no guarantee of aggressive adjudication - or not seek extradition at all. We are sure you would agree that none of these options assures the safety of our communities or the most equitable application of justice.
We believe that state governments, in addition to the federal government, should have a sovereign right to prosecute and punish according to their respective laws. The current refusal by the Mexican government to extradite its nationals who have committed crimes against Americans takes away that right.
As you are aware, on April 29, 2002, a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff, David March, was murdered, execution-style, during a routine traffic stop. The suspect Armando Garcia, is now believed to be in Mexico. Because Garcia is a Mexican national, the Mexican government is likely to refuse extradition unless the prosecutors agree not to pursue the death penalty or even life in prison. Mr. President, the family of Deputy March and the people of the United States deserve justice in this case. Mexico's extradition refusals have denied us all that justice.
Therefore, we urge you to address this issue aggressively by seeking the cooperation of Mexican President Fox. Such action will ensure that our justice system is not relegated to the hands of a foreign nation and will assure the just administration of law.
Rep. Schiff represents California's 29th Congressional District, including the communities of Burbank, Alhambra, Altadena, East Pasadena, East San Gabriel, Glendale, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, South Pasadena and Temple City.