FOREIGN OPERATIONS, EXPORT FINANCING, AND RELATED PROGRAMS APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2005 -- (House of Representatives - July 15, 2004)
The Committee resumed its sitting.
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Mr. DEAL of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Amendment offered by Mr. Deal of Georgia:
At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following:
GOVERNMENTS THAT HAVE FAILED TO PERMIT CERTAIN EXTRADITIONS
SEC. 576. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to provide assistance to the government of any country with which the United States has an extradition treaty and which has failed to permit the extradition to the United States, for trial or sentencing in the United States, of individuals accused of committing criminal offenses for which the maximum penalty is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or a lesser term of imprisonment.
The CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to the order of the House of today, the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Deal) and the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Kolbe) each will control 10 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Deal).
Mr. DEAL of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, this is an amendment that provides as follows: that none of the funds made available in this act may be used to provide assistance to the government of any country with which the United States has an extradition treaty and which has failed to permit the extradition to the United States for trial or sentencing in the United States of individuals accused of committing criminal offenses for which the maximum penalty is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or a lesser term of imprisonment.
This is foreign operations appropriations. Normally, most of the discussions that we have relate to activities that occur in other countries and the amount of money that we are going to send from taxpayers in this country to another country. The heart of this amendment, however, relates to things that are happening here in our own country.
The classic example that I would cite to this body to illustrate the magnitude of this problem occurred a little over 2 years ago when Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy David March pulled over a Mexican national named Armando Garcia, a twice-deported illegal alien who had been convicted of drug activities and who had currently two outstanding warrants for attempted murder. Garcia knew that if he were arrested, he would probably be deported for a third time and perhaps go to prison. As Officer March approached the automobile, Garcia pulled a handgun and shot Officer March; and as he lay on the ground, Garcia exited his vehicle and shot Officer March again to make sure that he was dead. Garcia then immediately fled to Mexico where he apparently remains free today.
Several months after this incident occurred, the Supreme Court of Mexico ruled that they would not allow extradition for anyone who faced imprisonment of life without the possibility of parole. Most extradition treaties that we have around the world already exclude the extradition of individuals who would face capital punishment. In the State of California in this case, the mandatory or optional sentence would be life without parole or the death penalty for the killing of a police officer in the line of duty. So what we have is a police officer who has been executed by a foreign national in our country who has now fled back to his home country, who cannot be brought back to trial in this country for that murder and who will not be tried in his own country for that murder.
That is an outrage. It is an outrage for this Congress to continue to send the tax dollars of Deputy David March's widow to a country that refuses to bring her husband's murderer to justice. This is an example that has occurred in our relationship with Mexico, but there are numerous similar examples with other countries around the world.
I think it is time that this Congress faced up to this ever-growing problem, because I am told that there are hundreds of other families in this country whose loved ones have been murdered and who likewise cannot have those murderers brought to justice.
Mr. Chairman, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Norwood).
Mr. NORWOOD. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the gentleman from Georgia bringing this amendment tonight. I am a little distressed that it needs to be an amendment, frankly. This is a problem that must and has to be dealt with.
I am happy that this amendment does deal with any country that will not extradite nationals to the U.S., but I am particularly concerned about the one I know of particularly from Mexico, David March, one that a lot of us have been concerned about, frankly, for a long time. We do not really understand why the United States Government does not deal with this.
At the first of the year, we had written the President and asked why in the world do we not deal with a problem like this, the extradition back into our country. We really do have a formal agreement with them for extradition. It was not something that I could understand why you would put a family through this.
The White House sends it to the State Department, the State Department works overnight and gets us an answer back 6 months later to say that, gosh, we're sorry we can't help with that. President Fox is not in the judiciary in Mexico. We couldn't possibly bother him because he is in the executive branch.
None of that makes any sense to me, but what does make sense to me is that we tell any country but in this case and in particular we tell Mexico that if you want to be our friend, act like our friend. If you do not want to be our friend, there has to be some penalties; and in this case and in this bill we simply say that we are not going to fund the Mexican government. Is it $40 million a year, I believe, that we send down there or there is $40 million in this bill? You just do not get that this year.
I know we are going to hear a lot of concerns about that. I really need to ask the gentleman from Georgia a question or two, if I may, about the effects of this bill and the $40 million. I am told, and I think I am told correctly, that Mexico, that country, sends more illegal drugs into this country than any other. Of course, that does not sound very friendly to me, as if they are real friends, but the fact that they do send so many drugs into our country, we have to send them $40 million or we cannot possibly stop. That may not be the best use of $40 million, but I would like to hear your response to that, the maker of the amendment, why this is or is not such a bad thing.
Mr. DEAL of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. NORWOOD. I yield to the gentleman from Georgia.
Mr. DEAL of Georgia. In response to the gentleman's inquiry, I think it is certainly an appropriate inquiry. I would suggest that if we really want to stop the flow of drugs from Mexico, rather than sending that $40 million there, we could use it on our border to beef up our DEA, our Customs and others to try to stop it here.
The real irony of the argument that we cannot deal with the lack of extradition is that, first of all, if we really want to deal with Mexican drug problems, under the current status of affairs if a Mexican drug dealer comes to our country and in the process of his illegal activity of selling drugs in our country he kills either an officer or a private citizen and then returns back to his own country, a drug dealer cannot be brought to justice because Mexico will not allow it.
That to me is the greatest irony of all. I would suggest that if we really want to do something about the Mexican drug traffic, I understand their cartels are the leading distributors and manufacturers of drugs in our own country. So I would suggest that we can use the money better here at home.
Mr. NORWOOD. Mr. Chairman, reclaiming my time, so the gentleman is telling me that when Mexico does not cooperate with us on a treaty that we have with them, we are not going to send them that $40 million to try to stop the illicit drug trade, but we could use that $40 million, for example, in other places to stop that illicit drug trade.
Does the gentleman have any idea, and I do not know, the 40 millions of dollars we were sending down to Mexico in the past to work with International Narcotics Control, are they doing any good? Do we have any proof that that money is working?
Mr. DEAL of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, if the gentleman would continue to yield, I am sure there are arguments that can be made that it does some good, but Mexico continues to be the main source of illegal drugs into this country. And if we are doing something, it has not been as effective as it should have been.
Mr. NORWOOD. Mr. Chairman, reclaiming my time, if, in fact, Mexico was sending us 5,000 metric tons of marijuana, 50 metric tons of amphetamine, and 10 metric tons of heroin, we are not doing really good stopping it with that $40 million. I will tell the gentleman that. Maybe we need to tell them if they do not want to work with us in sending murderers back to our justice system, perhaps we need to keep our $40 million and put it in American hands to stop the illegal traffic.
Mr. DEAL of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, may I inquire how much time is left on my side.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Deal) has 1 minute remaining.
Mr. DEAL of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder).
(Mr. SOUDER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. SOUDER. Mr. Chairman, I believe that Mexico is making very tiny progress, but a little progress. But there are not very many ways to address this. And the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Deal), both as vice chairman of the Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources Subcommittee and in general, has been very active in bringing awareness to this subject.
We held a hearing, and we need to understand that it was not just Deputy Sheriff March who was killed. The Los Angeles County District Attorney told us at that hearing over 200 murder suspects in Los Angeles County alone have fled to Mexico.
We have to address this question. It is tough enough with the death penalty; but if we cannot even do life imprisonment, how in the world are we going to enforce our law in the United States, and how can we not have a double standard, actually a triple standard, on our citizens? They can get the death penalty. They can get life in prison. But if they can get across the border, there will be no penalty. It is a travesty, and we have to figure out some way to make this stick.
And I appreciate the gentleman's leadership. We need to continue to work at this and make sure that the government of Mexico understands this cannot stand. This has to change, or we will be out of control on our borders as we see murderers flee across and we cannot get them back.
I rise in support of the Deal Amendment. On October 1 of last year, the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources addressed the status of the extradition process, an area of growing concern for lawmakers and law enforcement officials throughout the U.S.
The most significant problem with the extradition process today is the conditions imposed by foreign nations on extradition. This problem is not new. For many decades now, certain nations that ban the death penalty within their own borders have refused to extradite any criminal who could face the death penalty in the U.S. Other countries refuse to extradite any fugitive who was convicted in absentia. Prosecutors in the U.S. have generally dealt with this problem by agreeing to seek life imprisonment instead of the death penalty, or by agreeing to hold a retrial.
In October 2001, however, the Mexican Supreme Court issued a decision banning the extradition of anyone facing life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, on the grounds that the Mexican constitution gives all criminals the right to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society. Thus, no matter how heinous the crime or how dangerous the criminal, Mexico will refuse to extradite anyone facing life imprisonment-which in most of our states is the minimum punishment for first degree murder. If Mexican authorities officially refuse an extradition request, they will then proceed to prosecute the fugitive under their own law-which often results in much lesser penalties. American prosecutors thus face a dilemma. They must either agree to charge a murderer with manslaughter or another lesser offense that does not match the seriousness of the crime; or they must trust to the
Mexican justice system. Many prosecutors have simply refused to request extradition under such conditions preferring to hope that the fugitive will sneak back into the U.S. and be apprehended.
The case of Deputy Sheriff David March illustrates this problem. Deputy March, a seven-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, was murdered while making a routine traffic stop in April 2002. His suspected killer, Armando Garcia, a Mexican national and violent drug dealer who had been deported three times from the U.S., immediately fled to Mexico. Mexican authorities have refused to extradite Garcia, on the grounds that he faces, at a minimum, life imprisonment.
This is indeed not an isolated case; the Los Angeles district attorney's office estimates that over 200 murder suspects in Los Angeles County alone have fled to Mexico. In response, several Members of Congress have offered legislation calling for changes to the existing extradition treaty.
Other issues surrounding the extradition process must also be examined by Congress. For example, in March 2002 the Justice Department's Inspector General released a report criticizing the Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs, the main Justice Department agency responsible for extradition matters, for its management of extradition cases. Questions have also been raised about how vigorously other federal agencies with potential influence are pursuing extradition cases.
It is important the concerns Mr. DEAL raises be addressed at the highest level of the government. We need to send a signal to the Government of Mexico and other nations that cop-killing drug dealers must be extradited to the United States for prosecution.
Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I certainly will not take the 10 minutes. Let me just quickly make a couple of comments.
I appreciate the comments that have been made here by the gentleman from Georgia, the other gentleman from Georgia, and the gentleman from Indiana here. I share the outrage that people feel about somebody who is a murderer of a law enforcement officer in this country getting away to a country like Mexico and then being able to escape justice. That should not happen. We have extradition treaties with a number of countries; and almost all of them in many cases, I should say, since most other countries prohibit death penalties, they do prohibit extradition if death is an option as a penalty.
But this is a new wrinkle. This is a new wrinkle that was put in by the supreme court in Mexico, which ruled that if an individual faces life in prison without possibility of parole, that is equivalent, apparently is what the supreme court said, and I have not read the complete ruling. I am a little sympathetic to the government of Mexico, which I do not think anticipated this. They certainly did not suggest to us or to the State Department that they anticipated this ruling by the supreme court, and I think they are willing and trying to work with us to resolve that.
We want to see that all crimes that are committed on our soil are brought to justice. We want to see them brought to justice particularly when it is a law enforcement officer who is the victim of this kind of terrible crime. So I intend to work with the gentleman to encourage the State Department to make every possible effort in these cases.
But before I close, let me just make one other comment, that is, I think there is a danger here of mixing some apples and oranges here when we talk about this punishment of Mexico and then we talk about whether or not they are having any effect in solving the drug problem. I would point out that this bill also contains $731 million for the Andean Counter-Drug Initiative, that is, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador. Those are the countries where most of the raw materials for our drugs that are consumed in this country come from. But I am sure that the three gentlemen that have spoken here would not suggest we would today cut off that money because we have not been effective. That argument has been made by some on this floor, and I do not think it is a good argument. We should do that. The $40 million that we provide to INL, the international narcotics force that we have overseas, goes largely in Mexico to support the helicopter program, that is, to maintain and supply the helicopters that are used both in chasing down drug smugglers, that is, in small planes, and in eradication efforts.
So I think it is money that is probably well spent, and I would suggest it is not money we would really want to cut off here. And with that I appreciate the gentleman's comments.
Mr. DEAL of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. KOLBE. I yield to the gentleman from Georgia.
Mr. DEAL of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding to me.
I will tell the chairman I am prepared to withdraw the amendment. I will, however, say that even though I do support our efforts to interdict drugs overseas, that until those governments recognize that when someone comes into our country either legally or illegally, kills a law enforcement officer or any other citizen, or engages in major drug trafficking in our own country that under the provisions of their own laws or constitutions it prohibits them from being prosecuted for it that they have to understand if they want to be a partner in these efforts, that is the first step they should begin to take to show their good faith.
I would suggest if they want to show good faith, they should allow the murderer of Officer March to be brought to justice in the United States.
I do thank the gentleman for his indulgence. I would urge him to press this issue forward as we go forward with further funding issues. And I, quite frankly, would urge our administration to reexamine the extradition treaty not only with Mexico but with any other country that throws up these impediments. It is a double insult to the American public to have someone come into our country, kill our law enforcement officers or our citizens, and then be able to escape back to their own country and not be brought to justice.
Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to withdraw the amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Georgia?
There was no objection.