JULY 06, 2011
Following Mexico’s written orders, President Obama has asked the Supreme Court to halt the execution of an illegal immigrant convicted of bludgeoning, raping and murdering a teenage girl because it would do “irreparable harm” to U.S. interests abroad.Mexico has no death penalty and refuses to extradite criminals who flee the U.S. unless prosecutors assure they won’t seek capital punishment. Over the years a number of hardcore felons—including child murderers and rapists—who would ordinarily face death in the U.S. havefled south of the border. Mexican authorities only return them if prosecutors vow not to pursue death.As per a Mexican government directive, Obama wants Texas to stop this week’s scheduled execution of 38-year-old Humberto Leal, who was convicted nearly two decades ago and has lost a myriad of appeals. Leal has lived in the U.S. illegally since he was a toddler and in 1994 kidnapped, raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl in San Antonio.Besides opposing capital punishment, Mexican officials claim that Leal’s rights were violated because San Antonio police failed to tell him that, as a Mexican national, he could contactMexico’s consular officials. Ironically, the San Antonio Police Department has a don’t-ask-don’t-tell mandate forbidding officers from inquiring about suspects’ immigration status. Evidently the city’s sanctuary policy, backed by Mexico because it prevents racial profiling, hurt this particular illegal immigrant.The bottom line remains that Leal confessed and powerful DNA evidence and witness testimony proved his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The illegal immigrant received great legal representation and got a fair trial, according to appellate decisions upholding the conviction. In fact, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that Leal was“overwhelmingly” guilty and that a new trial would only produce the same outcome.Yet our commander-in-chief is bending over for our neighbor to the south and has asked the nation’s highest court to delay the execution until Congress can enact legislation to save Leal and foreign nationals like him facing death. The magic law, obviously crafted to appeaseMexico, was introduced a few weeks ago by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy.In a brief filed a few days ago by Obama’s solicitor general, the president asks the Supreme Court to stop Leal’s execution because it would cause “irreparable harm” to U.S. interest abroad and “would place the United States in irreparable breach of its international law obligation.” This will lead to “serious repercussions for United States foreign relations, law-enforcement and other co-operation with Mexico, and the ability of American citizens travelling abroad to have the benefits of consular assistance in the event of detention,” according to the brief.The White House filed the document and Democrats introduced legislation shortly after receiving a written mandate from Mexico. In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan demands that the “U.S. government support Mr. Leal’s request for a stay of execution in the U.S. Supreme Court.” Sarukhan also threatens to pull his country’s commitment to the U.S.-Mexico “bilateral agenda” if Leal dies and says another execution of a Mexican national will “undoubtedly affect public opinion in Mexico.”A few days after receiving the Mexican directive, Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder thanked Leahy in writing for his “extraordinary efforts to enact legislation” that could halt Leal’s execution and, in turn, offer an “essential legislative solution” to a bigger issue. In a three-page letter to Leahy, Clinton and Holder point out that his measure is “particularly important” to the nation’s “bilateral relationship with Mexico.” Both letters and Leahy’s billare attached as exhibits to the White House brief.
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