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A day laborer who claimed he and two other men were kidnapped from a street corner and taken in handcuffs to Tijuana has admitted he made the story up.
The kidnapping claim added fuel to an already fiery debate over day laborers and immigration that led to strong demands from people on both sides of the immigration issue.
Two immigration rights groups called for an investigation after Gutierrez’s sister said her brother had called her from Mexico and said he had been kidnapped.
On May 15, Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Labor Center in Los Angeles, called it a pressing criminal matter.
Emotions ran high the next day when members of the Minuteman Project, who have been rallying at the labor site, told the Rancho Cucamonga City Council the city should cite motorists who pick up workers.
One woman aligned with the Minuteman group angrily approached the dais without permission.
The next day, Councilman Rex Gutierrez expressed his disdain with the group.
Minuteman national rally spokesman Raymond Herrera said the group had serious doubts about the kidnapping claim from the start.
He said the group believed the story was a lie.
“The Minuteman group knew that from the start,” he said. “It just didn’t add up.”
The news that the kidnapping story was a lie is regrettable, said Jose Calderon, professor of sociology and Chicano studies at Pitzer College.
(Posted on June 1, 2007)