But they sure didn't deserve to have their country stab them in the back, either.
Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos were sentenced to an unbelievable 12 and 11 years respectively for shooting illegal alien Osvaldo Aldrete DÃ¡vila, who was smuggling 743 pounds of marijuana in February 2005.
The drug dealer, who was illegally crossing our borders to poison our people, got less time in prison: 9.5 years. Thankfully, though belatedly, President George W. Bush commuted Compean's and Ramos' sentences, meaning they will be released soon.
Bush may have needed to do so just to re-enter Texas upon retirement: 31 of the state's 34 members of Congress had asked him in a letter to help the agents out.
This is the wisdom of our system of government: As deliberate and as redundant as our legal system is, sometimes it makes egregious mistakes.
This was one of those times.
Yes, Compean and Ramos were wrong to try to cover up the shooting. They will not work as border agents again. And they have paid a tremendous price.
Even if you think they needed punishing, they've repaid their debt to society.
Can society say the same about its debt to our border agents? For too many years, we put them on a border with too few agents and virtually no obstructions to prevent millions of illegal entries. Increasingly over the years, those entries have involved dangerous and ruthless drug and immigrant smugglers.
We should pat our agents on the back, not stab them there.