Tuesday, January 15, 2013
After a long and drawn out three and a half year battle, the U.S. government is moving to dismiss charges against Alex Sanchez, a well-respected and nationally renowned gang violence prevention and intervention advocate and Executive Director of Homies Unidos. In June of 2009, Sanchez was indicted for conspiracy to commit murder in a major federal racketeering case brought by the U.S. Government.
Alex’s case is particularly significant for immigration advocates since years earlier, in 2002, the U.S. government tried to deport Alex based on his immigration status and criminal history. Fortunately, Alex was granted relief in the form of Convention Against Torture by an Immigration Judge. There were credible threats out of El Salvador that Alex would be killed if deported there based on his peace work in the United States. Alex’s case gave hope to many others who also feared persecution after deportation based on their renunciation of gang membership and the gang lifestyle. Alex has since become a leading voice in immigrant’s rights advocacy and in challenging the current U.S. detention and deportation system.
Not surprisingly, when Sanchez was being considered for bail, he received approximately 100 letters of support from professors, politicians, social workers, clergy, law enforcement, and former gang members from around the country. He also received over $2.5 million dollars pledged in support of his release on bail. His supporters included former California State Senator Tom Hayden and Father Gregory Boyle, recipient of numerous humanitarian awards including the California Peace Prize.
But as our justice system would have it, this overwhelming evidence in support of Alex’s good character not only failed to move the judge to release Alex, but did little to move the government to ensure that their evidence against him was reliable.
In December, the government stated that it would be dismissing the current charges against Sanchez. The motion will likely be ruled upon in federal court this week. Although the government admitted that its case against Sanchez was flawed, federal prosecutors are asking for a dismissal “without prejudice” so that they may retain the right to re-file charges against Alex.
The government should join Alex in his efforts to prevent violence; not persecute him for doing so.