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Latino Gang Member Turned Peace-Maker Battles "Death Sentence" Deportation

June 25, 2002

Attorney General John Ashcroft asked the Supreme Court Friday to permit secret deportation hearings for people arrested after Sept. 11. He claimed national security will be compromised by disclosing information about the detainees.

Ashcroft was responding to a lower court’s ruling that the Justice Department cannot exclude the public, the press and family members from attending hearings for "special interest" detainees. The latest Justice Department statement claims only 74 of the original 1200 Sept. 11 detainees remain in federal custody. Most were charged only with immigration violations. Many have already been deported.

But Muslims and Arabs are not the only ones who are facing the crackdown on immigrants. Just yesterday, Los Angeles community leader Alex Sanchez headed to court to try to prevent a deportation order based on his undocumented status. The gang-member turned peace organizer says a deportation order would be tantamount to an execution order.

El Salvador is ranked as one of the most brutal and violent countries in the world. Right-wing death squads are once again on the rise. Many current and former gang members deported to El Salvador have been killed in recent years. Five members of Sanchez’s organization, Homies Unidos have been deported to El Salvador since 1999. All five have been murdered.


  • Alex Sanchez, program director, Homies Unidos. Homies Unidos is a non-profit gang violence prevention and intervention organization with projects in San Salvador, El Salvador and Los Angeles, California. The organization was founded in 1996 in San Salvador and formally began organizing in the United States in 1997.
  • Allen Diamante, Lawyer for Alex Sanchez.
  • Suzannah Maclay, Senior Staff Attorney, Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, in Florence Arizona.

Related link:


  • Whose World Is This–Jim Page.