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Though a federal judge in San Francisco dismissed their lawsuit, Mexican laborers said they would continue to demand millions of dollars they believe is owed them for working on American farms and railroads more than 50 years ago. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer wrote that he did “not doubt that many (workers) never received savings fund withholdings to which they were entitled. The Court is sympathetic.” But in his ruling, given to lawyers Wednesday, Breyer concluded that the former workers were not entitled to relief in a U.S. court. Luis Magana, whose father came to California from Mexico in 1943 at age 17 to pick asparagus, tomatoes and sugarbeets, said the decision was unfair. “That decision will not stop us,” said Magana, who is coordinator of Proyecto Bracero del Valle Central in Stockton, Calif. “Justice is on our side.” The workers were among more than 300,000 Mexicans who harvested crops and maintained railroad tracks as guest workers in the United States between 1942 and 1949. Called “braceros,” after the Spanish word for arm, they came under an agreement between the United States and Mexico aimed at filling labor shortages caused by World War II. Under the agreement, 10 percent of each worker’s wage was to be withheld and transferred, via U.S. and Mexican banks, to an individual savings fund. But many braceros said they never received the money. In March 2001, a group of former braceros sued the U.S. and Mexican governments, Wells Fargo Bank and three Mexican banks, seeking the deducted money plus interest. While they did not specify the amount owed, advocates estimated it at $500 million. Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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