Black Movements in the US - Fall 2008 : International Affairs
This page last changed on Nov 20, 2007 by slgarcia.
Most of Homies Unidos' clients are Hispanic, though some are African-American or Asian. Some clients lack citizenship or proper paperwork that allows them to stay in the U.S. legally. Deportation can be a death sentence for many individuals who have turned their back on gang life and have enemies still in "the game" in their native country. Homies Unidos, although not a legal institution, links clients with lawyers and helps clients facing deportation with filing paperwork, securing character witnesses to testify on their behalf, and navigating the court system.
Intwertwined with Homies' struggle are issues regarding immigration and immigration reform.
In 2000 Alex Sanchez, Homies Unidos' program director, faced deportation back to El Salvador after becoming active in the struggle against police brutality and gang intervention. By connecting complainants with attorneys Sanchez became a threat to LAPD's CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoolums) unit, a unit now disbanded for its vigilante style law enforcement. CRASH was a unit of LAPD's Rampart division, a division known for its notorious corruption. Sanchez won his case and has recently been appointed Executive Director.
Intertwined with Homies' struggle are issues regarding immigration and immigration reform. Although Sanchez does not have U.S. citizenship, his contributions to the Los Angeles community and the United States make him a valuable asset to the country.
The fact that Homies Unidos began in El Salvador is significant. Although MS-13, originated in America, the movement that first addressed it originated in El Salvador. This suggests the differing degrees to which Americans and El Salvadoreans value grassroots organizing and collective activity. Americans pride themselves on their individualism and competition, but in this case it seems that El Salvador's more collective and cooperative society succeeded first in creating a solution to its gang problem. Both organizations (El Salvador based Homies and Los Angeles based Homies) fight for similar social change regarding gangs and gang violence. Homies Unidos as an organization ties into the "Third World" are so strong because it originated in those settings.
The symbol in the Homies Unidos logo is a picture of a Mayan god. This symbol communicates a special connection with Central American roots since the Mayans were an ind civilization that endured Spanish colonization.
Dora Angelica, an El Salvadorean woman, speaks about the impact that the U.S. had on El Salvador during their Civil War era. Here are some words from Dora:" There are two problems that exist in El Salvador. The situation that occurred during the 1980s left El Salvador with extreme poverty, crime and the birth of many Salvadorian youth gangs. These two problems have something in common caused by the influence of the Yankee imperialism in Central America countries. For many years the military govern Salvadorians under the influence of the American government."
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