There’s a right way to do things and a wrong way. Or, in the case of immigrant workers, there’s the legal way and the illegal way. Santiago Cruz, who spent three years working in North Carolina, was working for the legal way. It's believed it cost him his life. He was brutally murdered.
Colleagues are viewing his killing as a warning from vicious forces in Mexico not to tamper with their lucrative business. And what kind of business would prompt murder? No, we’re not talking drugs. We’re talking about the business of bilking fellow citizens out of their money on promises (rarely fulfilled) of working in the United States.
Santiago worked for the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) in North Carolina, and had traveled to Monterrey, Mexico, to fight corrupt recruiters who take money from people who want jobs in the United States.
This type of extortion is big business in Mexico, perhaps the darkest side of U.S. guest worker programs. Most poor Mexicans seeking work in the United States are not knowledgeable about the guest worker process. Or perhaps they’re desperate, desperate enough to pay shady recruiters exorbitant (sometimes thousands of dollars) fees on promises of working in the states.
Honest recruiters typically charge hopeful jobseekers minor administrative fees, usually just enough to cover the cost of processing their applications. Legitimate recruiters make their money from the fees that they charge U.S. business owners, not from job seekers.
Recruiting is a serious business in Mexico as Santiago’s brutal death illustrates.
He was discovered beaten to death in his Monterrey office. His hands were tied behind his back and his feet bound. FLOC represents about 7,000 guest workers that come to the Southeast each year to work in agriculture.
Raleigh's ABC11 Eyewitness News offered a full account and video of the tragedy on Nov. 16. Click on the headlne for the ABC11 report. — Ron Hall