This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.
When a wrong is made right, even if it comes decades after the transgression, the news is worth heralding.
A federal court in San Francisco last week approved a settlement that remedies an injustice to Mexican farmhands and laborers that dates back to World War II. It allows the laborer, or his survivor, to collect $3,500 if it can be proved that the worker was contracted through a wartime guest-worker program that opened the door for Mexicans to come to the United States. Mexico will make payments to those who met a January deadline and provided proof of work.
The guest-worker program operated from 1942 until 1964. Its laborers were known as braceros because they worked with "brazos," a pair of arms. For an hour's work in fields or on railroads, their wages often amounted to a couple of quarters. Ten percent of those paltry wages were garnished – some braceros couldn't read and knew nothing of the deductions – and sent to a savings fund in Mexico. That fund collected an estimated $32 million. The savings were meant as an enticement to go home. Workers should have been able to retrieve the money due them, but the majority couldn't. The money had gone missing in Mexico.
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