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Ros-Lehtinen Urges Administration to Work for Release of Imprisoned American Marine Veterans and Urges Passage of Venezuela Sanctions Bill


Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement at a full committee hearing on U.S.-Mexico relations. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

"While I recognize the importance of the improvements that we have made jointly in the judicial sector, I believe it's only prudent for the U.S. to continue to seek and push extradition of high value criminals who could provide us insight into the drug trade in our region.

Three months ago, with our assistance, the Mexican government apprehended Chapo Guzmán -- one of the world's most notorious drug traffickers. Many of our Members including Mr. McCaul have brought up the issue of extraditing him, and we've got to continue pressure on Mexico so we don't' have more of these cases.

I'm also concerned about the human rights situation in Mexico not only for Mexican nationals but for U.S. citizens. In 2012, I led the effort for another Marine veteran, Jon Hammar, who ended up in a Mexican jail for far too long. The family was at first quiet but then became more vocal because they were not getting much success. Today, as Congressman Vargas pointed out, there is a new case in Mexico of Andrew Tahmooressi, a Marine veteran from South Florida. I was pleased to join Mr. Vargas and Mr. Duncan Hunter to the embassy in Mexico asking that this hero be helped in this sad situation. I'd like to put that for the record.

Also, I joined a letter of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose mom, of Andrew, lives in her district. He's a 25-year-old Marine Corps veteran from western Florida. We're very worried about this case and it took a lot of pressure to help these cases get resolved. I hope in the same way you helped Jon Hammar, you help with Andrew's case. So I'd like for you to comment on that.

Thank you, Secretary Jacobson, for rectifying for the record your statement in the Senate hearing, that it's not the case that the Venezuelan opposition to sanction human rights violators. But whether they are or aren't, I think it's the right thing for the U.S. to sanctions human rights violators who've killed so many in Venezuela. So we hope that we can move that bill quickly, and I know Senators Menendez and Rubio are working on that as well.

Today's Cuba's Independence Day -- we wish that today that was truly the case.

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