Duncan Hunter

Duncan Hunter

CALIFORNIA's 50th DISTRICT

Hunter: Mexican officials violated rights of Marine in Mexico—offers possible fast-track for case

2014/07/22

Washington DC—U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter said today that Mexican officials violated the rights of Andrew Tahmooressi in the hours and days immediately following his arrest for mistakenly crossing the border with three legally-owned firearms.  Hunter indicated that the violations might be enough to fast-track Andrew’s case. 

“Andrew has a knowledgeable and effective legal team that is capable of doing what his previous two lawyers couldn’t—and that’s getting this case moving in the right direction,” said Rep. Hunter.  “The legally-permitted window of time to dismiss the case—or ask for a dismissal—passed in the first weeks of Andrew’s incarceration.  Why?  His first lawyer never made the request.  And the second lawyer never filed a single piece of paper.  Now, at least, Andrew’s case is back on track and the days after the August 4 hearing could present the first real opportunity for dismissal due to the violation of Andrew’s rights—including the failure to appropriately provide Andrew with a translator among other missteps.

“The one person who can address these violations right now and dismiss the charges against Andrew is the Mexican Attorney General.  Over the next several days, I will be working with other members of the House to bring these issues to the attention of the Attorney General in the hope that Mexico will ultimately do the right thing and release Andrew to his family.”

Rep. Hunter is also circulating a letter among his House colleagues.  Text follows:

Dear Colleague:

Every day, I am asked about former Marine Corps Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi, who was arrested by Mexican officials on April 1, 2014, at a checkpoint on the U.S.-Mexico border.  In Andrew’s vehicle were three legally-owned firearms, which he disclosed to border officials as soon as he was directed to secondary screening.

After several postponed proceedings, a first evidentiary hearing was held on July 9 and Andrew’s next hearing is set for August 4.  The upcoming hearing is the first real opportunity for things to change for Andrew and possibly represent the first step toward his official release. 

The reason this process has taken so long is because Andrew’s two previous lawyers weren’t up to the task—but now, Andrew has a legal team—led by Fernando Benitez—that knows the law and knows how to win… And win in Mexico, where the legal system presents a different set of challenges. 

It was the first attorney who missed the lawfully permitted window of time to request dismissal of the case.  The second attorney never even filed paperwork.  So Mr. Benitez is working to fix things and he has both the evidence and strategy to get Andrew home. 

At the first evidentiary hearing, important details emerged that Andrew was held in violation of the law.  Among the missteps were clear “humanitarian violations,” including the inability to appropriately provide Andrew a translator.  There is also a 911 audio recording that my office recovered, where Andrew states he had made a mistake entering Mexico.  Of course, on the basis of intent, Andrew had no intention of driving into Mexico—and his emergency phone call indicates that fact.

Much of this will come to light in the August hearing.  And if there a chance at dismissal, the opportunity will be in the days immediately following that hearing.

But there is one person who can do what the court cannot.  Mexico’s Attorney General can move to dismiss the charges against Andrew—something he can do today.  So in the coming days, I will be sending a letter to Mexico’s Attorney General outlining specific information and asking for Andrew’s release. 

I ask that you consider joining me in writing to the Mexican Attorney General.

Thank you.

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Terry, Hunter write to Mexico Court to show bipartisan support for Andrew Tahmooressi ahead of today’s hearing

2014/07/09

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Lee Terry (R-NE) and Duncan Hunter (R-CA) today wrote to Mexican Judge Victor Octavio Luna Escobedo who today is presiding over the hearing of Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, the U.S. Marine who despite having served honorably, is being held in jail for mistakenly crossing the Mexican border with legally owned firearms.

After working in consultation with Sgt. Tahmooressi’s attorney, Reps. Terry and Hunter submitted the letter as evidence of political support in the United States.

“Sgt. Tahmooresi has honorably served our country; having been there when we’ve asked him,” said Terry.  “It’s only appropriate Congress voice that he’s held in good standing by his own country. I’m pleased to work with Duncan and other members of the House and give Andrew that voice.”

“After more than 100 days in prison for taking a wrong turn at the border, Andrew has shown immense strength and resolve, and it’s important that he’s reminded that he has unwavering support here at home,” said Hunter.  “The Court must also be reminded that Andrew is a Marine Corps veteran who risked his life for his nation and his fellow Marines, and he deserves to have his case quickly and favorable resolved on the basis that he made a simple mistake at the border.”    

“We believe the evidence supports Andrew’s claim that he mistakenly entered into Mexico. One of the most compelling pieces of evidence is a 911 call Andrew made at the border checkpoint, where he stated he was unaware of his location” the letter reads.

The bipartisan letter was signed and sent today by 74 members of the House of Representatives.

 

Text of the letter is below:

 

The Honorable Víctor Octavio Luna Escobedo

Juez Sexto de Distrito de Procedimientos Penales Federales XV Circuito

Ave Paseo De Los Heroes #10540 6TO. Piso, Zona Rio

Tijuana, Baja California 22010

 

Dear Judge Escobedo:

We appreciate your careful consideration of the Andrew Tahmooressi case. As Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, we stand behind Andrew and believe the specific circumstances of this case require Andrew to be returned to the U.S. immediately.

We believe the evidence supports Andrew’s claim that he mistakenly entered into Mexico. One of the most compelling pieces of evidence is a 911 call Andrew made at the border checkpoint, where he stated that he was unaware of his location. It’s also important to take into account that Andrew was new to the San Diego area, without permanent housing, and had many of his possessions in his car. Like many of those new to the area, he was unfamiliar with the often confusing roads along the border and was unable to turn around before entering Mexico.

Andrew’s character and service should also be taken into account. Andrew is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served his country honorably, enduring two combat tours in Afghanistan, and earning a promotion to Sergeant on the battlefield—a high honor for any service member. Further, he saved lives on the battlefield in several instances, showing both courage and commitment to his fellow Marines. Andrew suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of his time in combat and moved to the San Diego area to seek treatment. Regrettably, his incarceration prevents him from getting the treatment that he deserves. The Marine Corps has stood by Andrew, and has pledged its assistance to resolve this case.

As this case moves forward, we urge you to consider the specific circumstances of this case, and hope that you will arrive at the same conclusion we have—that Andrew should be reunited with his family as soon as possible.

Duncan Hunter Member of Congress

Lee Terry Member of Congress

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Fence is right fix for nation’s border problems

2014/07/06

No different from many areas throughout Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, San Diego County is on the front line of the illegal immigration fight. The difference is that experience and results make San Diego one of the most effectively secured border regions in the country.

This success is not a coincidence or due to luck. It’s because San Diego has in place the infrastructure and resources that create an enforceable border that actively discourages and prevents illegal foot and vehicle traffic. Often, San Diego is viewed as a bellwether for border security and federal officials — in particular, the Obama Administration — would be wise to take note of what’s been done locally.

One of San Diego’s greatest assets is the double-layered border fence that extends inland from the Pacific Ocean. Fencing and infrastructure alone are by no means enough to stop illegal crossings, but the presence of physical impediments at the border, when supported by manpower and technology, create barriers that make entry increasingly more difficult and sometimes impossible. The last remaining hole in San Diego’s defense is the ocean route. The Coast Guard does not have the technology or the manpower to protect against the ocean threat and the narco-terrorists are using the ocean more.

But on land, infrastructure is a force multiplier. Fewer agents are needed in fenced areas than unfenced sections of the border. With the addition of cameras and sensors, border agents are not only better protected, but also more effective.

Also worth noting is the humanitarian benefit that infrastructure delivers. The danger of crossing desert areas, where dehydration and exhaustion are serious risks, is minimized when there is no clear corridor for entry. The San Diego border fence has forced some migrants to attempt crossing over less inviting terrain, but within these areas a greater manpower presence is capable of covering larger spaces and responding more quickly.

In 2006, the Secure Fence Act was signed into law, requiring the Department of Homeland Security to build upward of 700 miles of double layered fencing along the U. S-Mexico border. While the Obama administration is quick to state that the targets have been met, only a small fraction — in fact, less than 40 miles — of the newly implemented infrastructure is double-layered. The single-layer pedestrian fencing and vehicle barriers that fill the remaining mileage might be better than nothing, but the opportunity to build on San Diego’s success continues to be missed in the absence of adding secondary fencing where necessary.

Either the mandates of the Secure Fence Act should be reinstated, which I have proposed, or the Obama administration should utilize existing authority to finish the job that the Bush Administration halfheartedly started. Either way, this is one initiative that, after almost 10 years since the Secure Fence Act was enacted, needs to be completed — the way it was intended.

Though even with the advantages delivered from enhanced security, new challenges are routinely presented, often through exploited legal forms of entry. This is something the San Diego region will continue to deal with despite having an enforceable border.

For instance, one way that illegal immigrants are entering the country is through the process whereby anybody can claim “credible fear.” And right now, U.S. Customs and Border Protection does not keep track of who overstays on the basis credible fear is initially cited.

In fact, credible fear is the new buzzword that lawyers are spreading throughout Mexico and other countries. By law, migrants must be allowed entrance and await their day in court. Many, if not most just disappear and there is no way for CBP to find them later.

Now in San Diego County, it’s easier to present oneself at the Otay Mesa processing center than to sneak across the border. Go down to the border and take a look. The problem here is no longer a lack of infrastructure but a process that is basically a form of admittance into the U.S. for migrants as long as no criminal record shows up for that person. Unbelievably, CBP processes these admittances then cannot account for a migrant’s whereabouts or if they left the country on time.

Addressing security exposures starts at the border — and San Diego County has a great handle on things because of an infrastructure system, technology and personnel that work together so well. But the broader challenges with illegal immigration will continue to exist.

Only when there is consistent enforcement along the entire border will the federal government be in a position to collectively assess the vulnerabilities created by the existing immigration system. Until then, San Diego will continue doing its part, leading by example where it can, and exposing aspects of the immigration process that desperately need a fix.

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Hunter Reaffirms Opposition to Local Illegal Immigrant Transfers

2014/07/01

Washington DC--Today, Rep. Duncan Hunter re-iterated opposition to the transfer of illegal immigrants to San Diego and Riverside Counties.  The transfers are occurring at the direction of the Department of Homeland Security in light of increased numbers of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and illegally entering the U.S.     "The surge in illegal immigrants is the result of a failure in enforcement and underscores the Administration's lack of commitment to securing the international land border," said Rep. Hunter.   "Border states and regions, including our own, are already overwhelmed by the challenges associated with illegal immigration and asking communities to do even more will only accentuate the problems that already exist."   Reps. Hunter and Ken Calvert recently sent a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, stating their concerns with any plan to move illegal immigrants to Murrieta.  Find the letter here.    Read More

Hunter to Hagel on situation in Iraq: Bring back the old hands

2014/06/30

In a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel today, Rep. Duncan Hunter, a veteran of the war in Iraq and member of the House Armed Services Committee, recommended six steps that should be taken quickly to retrieve Iraq from its current state of collapse.  Hunter specifically urged Secretary Hagel to bring back the “old hands” to utilize existing relationships and experience in Iraq.

A copy of Hunter's letter can be found here.

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Hunter to Escondido: Reject HHS lease application for unaccompanied minor facility

2014/06/24

Rep. Duncan Hunter issued two letters in recent days to the City of Escondido expressing firm opposition to the establishment of a facility for unaccompanied minors.  The Department of Health and Human Services applied for a 5-year lease for an existing health care facility to support increased numbers of illegal entries into the United States.  

Read Rep. Duncan Hunter's letter to the Mayor of Escondido on June 20, 2014.

Read Rep. Duncan Hunter's letter to the Mayor of Escondido on June 24, 2014.

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Hunter statement on Iraq and reports of intelligence gaps

2014/06/18

Washington DC—In response to reports that the U.S. is “scrambling” in Iraq to close intelligence gaps, Rep. Duncan Hunter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, made the following statement:

“Without a residual force, the President knew full well that the U.S. would lose its eyes and ears on the ground.  Now the CIA and others are scrambling to close gaps in intelligence to support possible action against militants—specifically airstrikes.  This signals that we are at a significant disadvantage and limits the options that a responsible and informed commander-in-chief would have already weighed. 

“What’s happening in Iraq is a direct result of the President’s misguided decisions.  Militarily, the U.S. won in Iraq, but the hard-fought and hard-earned gains of our servicemen and women have been politically squandered by the President and his Administration.   

“Opportunities to stabilize Iraq disappeared when the President decided against leaving a residual force.” 

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DHS to Hunter: More than 300 border incursions by Mexican military and law enforcement authorities since January 2004

2014/06/17

Washington DC—Today, Rep. Duncan Hunter received a written response from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), stating that since January 1, 2004, there have been a total of 300 documented incursions by Mexican military and law enforcement authorities. DHS also states that 152 of these incidents involved a total of 525 armed subjects.

“In light of the incarceration of Andrew Tahmooressi, who is still in Mexican custody, I asked DHS to provide data specifically on Mexican military and law enforcement incursions,” said Rep. Hunter. “DHS states that the number of incursions is ‘relatively few,’ but that is a misrepresentation of the frequency of these occurrences, which Mexico invites through its activities along the international border. Also, there is a clear lack of consistency among DHS in handling these incidents, especially in cases of unauthorized incursions with armed authorities.

“In Andrew’s case, Mexico has shown its intolerance for the same action that its police and military initiated hundreds of times in the last several years alone. It’s time for the U.S. to reconsider its treatment of the incidents and send a direct message to Mexico that incursions won’t be tolerated along the international border."

According to DHS:

• “There have been a total of 300 documented incursions since January 1, 2004;”

• “Of the 300 documented incidents, there were 152 incidents involving armed subjects (totaling approximately 525 subjects);”

• “Of the 152 incidents involving armed subjects, verbal or physical contact was made with the armed subjects in 81 incidents (approximately 322 armed subjects in total). An encounter with one of these Mexican Government Law Enforcement or Military entities does not always equal a standoff or confrontation. It depends on a case-by-case basis where one would have to read the narrative completed on the Significant Incident Report for the specific incursion;”

• “Of the 81 armed encounters, a total of 131 subjects were detained. While the number of unauthorized incursions by Mexican authorities is relatively few, it is imperative for our officer safety to handle each situation assertively but with sensitivity and professionalism.”

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Hunter statement on Iraq

2014/06/16

Rep. Duncan Hunter made the following statement today regarding the situation in Iraq:

"The latest escalation in Iraq underscores a massive strategic and foreign policy failure by the President and his Administration.  And because of the President's indecision, we are losing the element of surprise at every passing moment.  The U.S. should immediately deploy operation forces, intelligence assets and other resources to stabilize Iraq and prevent further advances by militants.  As the President continues to weigh his options, these same militants continue erasing the hard-fought and hard-earned gains that were achieved through the service and sacrifice of American service members.  That alone should motivate the President - as Commander-in-Chief - to act decisively and forcefully."

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White House had better options on Bergdahl

2014/06/08

With the recovery of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl last week, feelings about whether a disproportionate exchange of prisoners was right or wrong are divided between the principles that our military “leaves no man behind” and America “does not negotiate with terrorists.”

In Bergdahl’s case, the United States could have secured his release and avoided any negotiation with the Taliban along with the transfer of five high-value detainees from Guantanamo Bay, who are sure to pick up where they left off within the Taliban hierarchy.

The prisoner exchange was the favored approach by the White House and the Department of State, superseding all other options under consideration, regardless of their viability. In fact, left on the table were several options under pursuit by the Department of Defense that presented significant strategic advantages and far less risk.

Every day Bergdahl was in the custody of the Haqqani network — which is aligned with the Taliban and Pakistani security establishment — presented a threat to U.S. service personnel. The propaganda value alone of his captivity, regardless of the circumstances leading to his capture, always motivated recovery efforts and was no less significant than the fact that he was an American in enemy hands. One way or another, the Haqqani network would benefit from Bergdahl’s captivity, even if that meant using him in very distinct ways for propaganda purposes ahead of the U.S. drawdown and eventual withdrawal.

Given the importance of Bergdahl’s recovery, I wrote to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel twice in February of this year to alert him to disorganization within the Defense Department around recovery options that, with the right attention, would avoid negotiation with the Taliban and instead rely on regional allies. Secretary Hagel agreed and appointed a Defense Department coordinator. Soon, efforts within the Defense Department and coordination with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and all other government elements began improving.

A month later, I wrote to the president to call his attention to these efforts and urge the discontinuation of any interest in negotiating with the Taliban and agreeing to a prisoner exchange. A response was provided that stated “should we be in a position to talk directly with the Taliban, we would actively pursue Sgt. Bergdahl’s return through that channel.” And, of course, that is exactly what they did.

Not unexpectedly, controversy has erupted. A December 2013 “proof of life” video did indicate deteriorating health for someone in captivity for five years, but even individuals who first analyzed the video said there was no way to assess Bergdahl’s specific health condition. Further, they too knew that “proof of life” videos only show what the other side wants seen. For all the alarm with Bergdahl’s health, a Taliban video of Bergdahl’s handoff, which caught the U.S. government by surprise, showed him in good condition, walking upright to the helicopter that flew him away.

In the weeks and months ahead, only Bergdahl can answer questions about his captivity while the Obama administration will continue trying to justify why it skirted the law by not notifying Congress and why it believes there was a need to act immediately, the way it did, and not months or years ago.

Unfortunately for the Obama administration, the State Department-led swap was billed as the only game in town — overshadowing options within the Department of Defense that began to come together well after the prisoner swap received executive-level approval. For the Defense Department, there is a lesson learned, too, and this experience alone should motivate a change in process and systems.

Asked if the Taliban would be inspired to kidnap others, a commander laughed and responded as anyone would expect, saying “definitely.” The Taliban and other adversaries view the prisoner swap as an invitation to take more Americans into captivity. That fear alone should have prompted the president and the State Department to change course and put the Defense Department in the lead with orders to exhaust the numerous lines of effort already under pursuit that — without firing a shot — stood the same chance to put Bergdahl back in U.S. hands.

It is wrong to think the choice made by the Obama administration was the only one. It was not. With the right leadership and good decision-making, the United States could have upheld the commitment not to negotiate with terrorist and ensure that no man is left is behind. .

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Contact Information

223 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-5672
Fax 202-225-0235
hunter.house.gov

Congressman Duncan D. Hunter represents California’s 50th Congressional District consisting of East and Northern County San Diego. In 2008, Hunter was elected to his first term in the House of Representatives, succeeding his father, Duncan L. Hunter, who retired after serving 14 consecutive terms in Congress.

Hunter is a native of San Diego. He graduated from Granite Hills High School in El Cajon and earned a degree in Business Administration from San Diego State University. Hunter worked to pay for his education by creating websites and programming databases and ecommerce systems for high-tech companies. Immediately after graduation, he went to work full time in San Diego as a Business Analyst.

Soon after our nation was attacked on September 11, 2001, Hunter quit his job and joined the United States Marine Corps. Hunter entered active service as a Lieutenant in 2002 and excelled in the area of field artillery, much like his grandfather, Robert O. Hunter, who was a Marine Corps artillery officer in World War II.

Over the course of his service career, Hunter served three combat tours overseas: two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. In 2003, Hunter deployed to Iraq with the 1st Marine Division. Hunter completed his second tour in 2004, where he and his fellow Marines were at the center of combat operations in Fallujah, Iraq.

In September 2005, four years after he quit his job and joined the Marine Corps, Hunter was honorably discharged from active military service and started a successful residential development company. Still a Marine Reservist, he was promoted to the rank of Captain in 2006, and to the rank of Major in 2012.

Less than two years before Hunter was elected, he was recalled to active duty and deployed to Afghanistan. Hunter returned home after more than six months on the front lines and, with the support of the San Diego community, became the first Marine combat veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan elected to Congress.

Hunter is a strong conservative who is committed to strengthening national security, enforcing our borders, creating opportunities for American workers and protecting the interests of taxpayers. He is also a strong proponent of the Second Amendment, protecting traditional marriage and the rights of the unborn.

Congressman Hunter and his wife live in Alpine, California. They are the proud parents of three children: Duncan, Elizabeth and Sarah.


Serving With

Doug LaMalfa

CALIFORNIA's 1st DISTRICT

Tom McClintock

CALIFORNIA's 4th DISTRICT

Paul Cook

CALIFORNIA's 8th DISTRICT

Jeff Denham

CALIFORNIA's 10th DISTRICT

David Valadao

CALIFORNIA's 21st DISTRICT

Devin Nunes

CALIFORNIA's 22nd DISTRICT

Kevin McCarthy

CALIFORNIA's 23rd DISTRICT

Buck McKeon

CALIFORNIA's 25th DISTRICT

Gary Miller

CALIFORNIA's 31st DISTRICT

Ed Royce

CALIFORNIA's 39th DISTRICT

Ken Calvert

CALIFORNIA's 42nd DISTRICT

John Campbell

CALIFORNIA's 45th DISTRICT

Dana Rohrabacher

CALIFORNIA's 48th DISTRICT

Darrell Issa

CALIFORNIA's 49th DISTRICT

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