kidnapping, immigration and coyotes… all in a day’s work!


In the last two months seven taxi drivers have been kidnapped in this central Mexican town.

No one knows if they are alive or where they are being kept. At the gateways of this same town the drug lords station themselves carefully to watch the comings and goings of the town’s members and visitors. This is present day Mexico.

While most of the tourist centers are protected from this reality the everyday Mexican in certain states is living in this milieu of danger. It was here in this town that we found ourselves last week. We had traveled to this state, Zacatecas, to interview over 25 motivated workers looking to have the legal opportunity to work in Canada.

They picked this state for our visit, not because it was a border state, but because it was the state with the most immigrants to have made their way to America…. Illegally mind you. It was the state to first start the mass illegal immigration to America mostly because there were few jobs and little work to be found or made.

As we met for interviews with those from that town and those who had traveled for days by bus, car or foot from other parts of the state or other states we became much more aware of their present day realities. I am certain we did not meet a person that had not either hired a “coyote” or had known a family member who had used a “coyote” or illegal means to work in America.

Most knew someone who didn’t make it as well. Many had stories of days hiding in bushes or running through deserts from border guards, hiding in rivers and even having fungus grow on their feet due to the unavoidable dampness in hiding. Even in the U.S. during their illegal stay most had been stopped by police for traffic violations and as long as they paid their tickets and taxes they weren’t deported.

It is a world we know little about and can relate to in a limited way. Yet it is a real world and one now colliding with our lives. We can’t ignore it now. We can’t just go to the tourist spots and put our heads in the sand anymore.

One of the people who came for an interview had no experience within the job he was applying for with us. He owned and operated a tire repair shop and he was not in the age range to apply for a labor job.

The drug Lords have taken charge of his company.

They demand that he be available day or night to fix their stranded vehicles making sure that they are not left vulnerable to escape or for movement. Whether in the middle of the night or many miles down a dusty road in the day he must obey their orders as they threaten his life or his family’s life.

In desperation he asked us to hire him out of there.

I don’t believe our collective culture understands the value of a job or what people in Mexico have to do or will do for work, for a better life or for life period.

When a mechanical engineer applies for a labor job in Canada because the starting wage of a laborer here is three times the wage of a mechanical engineer in Mexico you realize the scales are imbalanced.

Yet we have hope to offer. We have a new life to offer….To whom do we offer it?

With great soberness we picked through the interviewees. It was not hard to relate to Jesus’ dilemma in the story in John 5 where he had just returned to Jerusalem and found himself at the pool of Bethesda surrounded by crowds of sick people. People with serious issues. The blind, the lame, the paralyzed.

There weren’t people there with concerns that would be healed by time or with medical attention. It was people with lifelong disabilities and limitations. Whether Jesus felt overwhelmed or not it was clear he didn’t feel the need to fix them all. It was clear he felt the need to one thing though. In fact, he only picked one in a crowd of the many with need but he picked one.

And the one he picked was changed forever. It is the one, we concluded.

With that in mind we kept looking for the one or the ones we were to pick and not feel the weight of solving it all. One by one we found our way to the twelve we felt to pick. Twelve is a pretty good biblical number too.

With the soberness of a culture that is only a trip to Disneyland away from ours we headed home feeling some sense of hope that as we drop a pebble in the water it makes its impact in concentric circles as it makes it way out.

We did our part, however little it was to the larger problem of legal work at that moment. We dropped our twelve pebbles and we arrive home leaving the rest of the story to God.

Todd Rutkowski

~ by blueporch on November 17, 2012.

2 Responses to “kidnapping, immigration and coyotes… all in a day’s work!”

  1. That must have been so difficult. Since as you pick the twelve, you are “rejecting” the rest. But that is part of the task as well. Unfortunately.

  2. I struggled with the imbalances I saw in Mexico and I do not want to go there because it was too much and you feel helpless with the overwhelming need. I am realizing that inspiring one life or 12 (actually more as it impacts their families) is meaningful. Thanks for the challenge.

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