Second acts in an immigrant's life
June 24, 2010
NEW YORK — Jose Gutierrez, among several deaf Mexicans lured into slavery as peddlers in New York, was honored on Tuesday for work as a janitor at the Statue of Liberty, according to the New York Times.
More than a decade ago, he was part of the nameless, unseen cast of a horror story: Lured from Mexico on promises of prosperity, he and 56 other people lived as prisoners in two row houses in Queens, the article noted.
According to the article, one day in July 1997, two of the peddlers went into the 115th Precinct station house in Queens, bringing a letter they had composed with help from a couple they had met at Newark Airport.
Federal prosecutors indicted 20 people on charges that included slavery and smuggling, and ultimately, they all pleaded guilty to some wrongdoing, the article stated.
On Tuesday morning, 13 years after two of the deaf Mexican peddlers walked into a police station in Queens with a letter describing the conditions, Mr. Gutierrez was honored for his diligent work at a company that has cleaning contracts with federal agencies, the article added.
Fedcap, which provides training and employment for people with disabilities, sent him to work on Liberty and Ellis Islands under a janitorial services contract administered by AbilityOne, a federal program: He makes $20 an hour plus benefits, and now has a green card, the article concluded.
There are, it turns out, second acts in American lives.
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