After an appeal hearing for jailed Border Patrol agent Jesus “Chito” Diaz, Jr., supporters of the former officer are speaking out and demanding that he be immediately released and reinstated to his job protecting the U.S. border. And after the federal judge presiding over the appeal indicated that the government may have gone overboard in the case, hope among his supporters remains.
According to critics of the prosecution, Diaz was inappropriately persecuted by the Department of Justice for doing his job — at the behest of the notoriously corrupt Mexican government. Last year, despite a tsunami of public outrage over the controversial felony charges, the former agent was handed a stiff 24-month prison sentence for allegedly using excessive force — pulling on a suspected drug smuggler’s handcuffs in an effort to locate contraband — after an illegal immigrant was apprehended near the border with narcotics.
During the ongoing appeal, however, Diaz's supporters found cause for optimism. “The question is it just sounds more like a misdemeanor instead of a felony to me,” opined Judge E. Grady Jolly during the hearing. While Judge Jolly also noted that Diaz may not have done the “right thing,” from the judge’s comments, it did not seem like he believed the alleged act should have been classified as a felony, which carries jail time.
In recent days, lawmakers supporting Diaz expressed hope about the jailed former agent’s prospects. “It’s good to see that this case may be finally receiving the impartial attention and due process it deserves, both for the personal respect of Agent Diaz and his family, and for the ‘far-reaching implications on law enforcement personnel,’ as the defense stated in its appeal,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who has led the congressional inquiry into the controversial prosecution. “I’m looking forward to the court’s decision, which I’m confident will be in Agent Diaz’s favor.”
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Photo of U.S. Border Patrol agents: AP Images