President Bush commuted the sentences of two former border patrol agents who had been sentenced to more than a decade in prison for shooting a suspected Mexican drug dealer in Texas in 2005.
President Bush exercised his constitutional power to grant clemency in a case that touched off fierce debate in the Southwest. The two former agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, had attracted considerable support among advocates of tougher border security, who argued that the agents were just doing their jobs.
Both agents were convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon and several other crimes. Mr. Compean was sentenced to 12 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised released, with a $2,000 fine. Mr. Ramos was sentenced to 11 years, with the same supervised release and fine.
The commutation granted by President Bush means the prison sentences of the men, both from El Paso, will expire on March 20, the Justice Department said.
The supervised release and fines will still apply. A commutation is not as generous as a presidential pardon, which essentially erases a crime from a defendant's record.