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Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Miguel Ortega was born in Miacatlán, Morelos, México; his father worked in sugar cane fields; at the age of twelve, he joined his father in the fields; he was in the bracero program from 1957 to 1964; he worked in Arizona packing lettuce and in California cutting celery.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Ortega recalls his childhood in Miacatlán, Morelos, México; he states that when he was twelve years old, he began working with his father in sugar cane fields; additionally, he remembers that he moved to Empalme, Sonora, México in 1957 to secure a bracero contract; he relates the help he received there while waiting to enlist in the program, and the process he encountered at the contracting center; furthermore, he remembers his trip to the United States-México border, and how he was treated at the processing center in El Centro, California; he details how the fumigation process was carried out, and how their paper work was created; moreover, he recounts working in Arizona and California packing lettuce and cutting celery; he discusses what his daily workload was like, and the physical difficulties the work entailed; to conclude, he reflects on what his life would have been like had he stayed in the U.S. after the program was done.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: José Ramírez was born on August 27, 1939, in Tizapotla, Morelos, México; at an early age, he began working on the farm with his family; he worked as a bracero from 1960 to 1962 in Arizona and California; there he picked cotton and cut lettuce.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Ramírez recalls growing up in Tizapotla, Morelos, México, and working from an early age on a farm; he remembers attending school to the third grade; later, he relates how he heard about the bracero program from men who went to the United States during the first years of the program; he joined the program in 1960, and describes the hiring process he went through in Empalme, Sonora, México; additionally, he details discrimination braceros suffered in Empalme and in the U.S.; he highlights how they were kicked out of church services, and how priest set up mass in Spanish for them; as a bracero, he worked in Arizona and California until 1962; he describes that during this time he picked cotton and cut lettuce; he expresses what daily life was like for him in the camps, and the work he had to perform; after the program was terminated, he states that he returned to the U.S. in 1973 as an undocumented worker; he explains how he crossed the border, and the work he did in Chicago; in 1980, he relates that he returned to México and decided not to go back to the U.S.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: José Verdín was born on November 26, 1938, in Purísima del Rincón, Guanajuato, México; at an early age, he worked with his father in the fields; he received formal education up to the fifth grade; in 1959, he joined the Bracero Program; he picked cotton in Arizona and California.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Verdín recalls growing up in Purísima del Rincón, Guanajuato, México, and working with his father in the fields; he remembers receiving formal education up to the fifth grade; he joined the bracero program in 1959, and relates his experience during the hiring process; additionally, he discusses how he was chosen to be a cook in the bracero camps, and what his life was like as a bracero; he also worked in Arizona and California picking cotton; these activities he did until 1967; after the bracero program ended, he returned to the United States as an undocumented worker; he describes how he crossed the border and the work he did in the U.S.; furthermore, he concludes by stating that he has lived in Austin, Texas since 1971 with his family, and that he took advantage of the amnesty offered in 1985.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Jesús Samarrón was born on October 23, 1936, in San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí, México; he had one year of formal education; at an early age, he began working in the fields with his father; at age eighteen, he labored in construction cutting stone; he joined the bracero program in 1957, and worked in Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan, and Texas; there, he picked corn, cotton, lettuce and strawberries; he did these activities until 1966.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Samarrón recalls his childhood in San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí, México, and his field work with his father at an early age; he recalls that he received one year of formal education; at age eighteen, he worked in construction, and he remembers how he had to cut stones; he relates how he was hired as a bracero, and his trip to the United States; in the bracero program from 1957 to 1966, he recounts what his daily life was like, and how the work was carried out; he also discusses how the braceros got along with each other, and how they celebrated Mexican holidays in the U.S.; furthermore, he expresses that he worked in Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan, and Texas picking corn, cotton, lettuce and strawberries; in 1968, he returned to the U.S. to labor as an undocumented worker; he continued this work until the 1990s, and traveled back to México periodically to visit his family; in the 1990s, he states that he retired in Austin, and, in 2000, he was able to bring his wife to the U.S. to live with him.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Gregorio Flores was born March 12, 1932, in Tepoztlan, Morelos, México; at an early age, he helped his father with field work; he had one year of formal education; as a young man, he worked in the construction industry; from 1959 to 1961, he worked as a bracero in Arizona, California and Texas picking cotton, melons, and other fruits and vegetables.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Flores recalls growing up in Tepoztlan, Morelos, México; he states that, after one year of formal schooling, he worked with his father doing farming chores; additionally, he remembers working in construction as a young man; he discusses being a bracero from 1959 to 1961; furthermore, he talks about his time picking melons in Arizona, fruits and vegetables in California and cotton in Texas; he details his time as an undocumented worker in Virginia and Dallas from 1980 to 1985; moreover, he compares what life was like for him as a bracero with what he experienced as an undocumented worker.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Filiberto Villaseñor was born on July 25, 1928, in Tizapotla, Morelos, México; at age twelve, he began working with his father in the fields; he was a bracero from 1955 to 1964; he picked cotton and tomatoes in California, Nebraska, and Wyoming.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Villaseñor recalls growing up in Tizapotla, Morelos, México; his father was a baker, but he remembers never having had an interest for the profession; at the age of twelve, he states that he helped his father work in the fields; he describes his childhood as being very hard economically, and talks about the work he did as a youth; he details how he found out about the bracero program, and what the hiring process was like when he went through it in 1955; additionally, he relates his experience at the contracting centers in Empalme, Sonora, México, Cuernavaca, Morelos, México, and Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México; he expresses what his life was like while working as a bracero in California, Nebraska, and Wyoming; furthermore, he states that he picked cotton and tomatoes in those places, and that he performed these duties until 1964; after the program was terminated, he says that he returned to the United States as an undocumented worker; he explains that he did this work for about ten years and then returned to México; later, he states that he has since received documents to enter the U.S., and uses them to return for work from time to time.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Felipe Corona was born on May 1, 1922, in Mazatepec, Morelos, México; his father died when he was eight years old of asthma; at an early age, he worked with his mother selling rice; later, he worked as a laborer in sugar cane fields; he joined the bracero program in 1955, and picked cotton and lettuce in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Montana, and Texas.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Corona recalls the death of his father when he was eight years old, and how he helped his mother to sell rice in towns around Mazatepec, Morelos, México; he states that later he labored in sugar cane fields; additionally, he remembers that, in 1943, he was hired as a bracero, but decided to stay in México out of fear of what would happen in the United States due to the Second World War; he details why he signed up again for the bracero program in 1955, and discusses the treatment he received as a bracero; additionally, he details how braceros were sprayed with pesticides, and the bad treatment they received from employers; he relates that he worked in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Montana, and Texas picking cotton and lettuce; he expresses that, after the end of the program, he returned to México and settled in Miacatlán, Morelos; he states that, during his time as a bracero, he sent money to his family, and was able to build a house.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Eleuterio Flores was born on February 20, 1935, in Miacatlán, Morelos, México; he grew up in a family of farm workers, and labored in sugar cane plantations near his hometown; due to a lack of formal schooling, he learned basic reading and writing from his father; he worked as a bracero from 1956 to 1963 in California and Texas.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Flores describes his childhood in Miacatlán, Morelos, México, and his lack of formal schooling; he relates that his father taught him to read and write; he also recalls his time in the Ingenio Azucarero, a sugar cane plantation; additionally, he discusses how his experience with the plantation helped him secure work as a bracero; furthermore, he remembers that, in 1956, he got permission from his work to join the bracero program; he details the work he did in California and Texas, and states that he picked cotton and gathered several other crops.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Bernardo Treviño on September 2, 1936, in Saltillo, Coahuila, México; he grew up in a family of farm workers; at an early age, he worked in the fields with his family; he worked as a bracero until 1964 in Michigan and Texas; there, he picked cotton and cut cucumbers.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Treviño recalls his childhood in Saltillo, Coahuila, México, and his work as a child on the farm; he remembers going through the hiring process in Zacatecas, Zacatecas, México, and signing his contract in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; additionally, he describes his trip to the border, and being sprayed with pesticide at the United States-México border; he states that he worked as a bracero until 1964 in Michigan and Texas; there, he picked and irrigated cotton and cut cucumbers; furthermore, he details what his daily activities were like, and the good treatment he received in the United States; he relates that sometimes he spent his free time on the Mexican side of the border; moreover, he discusses how he wished he would get his bracero savings funds back, and that more attention needs to be given to the bracero cases; he concludes by stating that once the program was over he did not wish to return to the U.S.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Alberto Mendoza was born on September 7, 1933, in Tizapotla, Morelos, México; his father fought in the Mexican Revolution under Emiliano Zapata’s army; he inherited land from his father, but suffered many hardships with it due to droughts and floods; later, he worked in a chalk factory; he joined the bracero program in 1959, and worked in Arizona, California and Texas.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Mendoza recalls his childhood in Tizapotla, Morelos, México, and memories of his father, a soldier in Emiliano Zapata’s army during the Mexican Revolution; he remembers the hardships he suffered while working the land his father left him, and the impact bad weather had on his farming; additionally, he details how he worked in factories, and his decision to join the bracero program; he enlisted in 1959, and relates the process he went through to get hired in Cuernavaca, Morelos, México, as well as the fumigation performed on him at the United States border; he describes working in Arizona, California, and Texas picking strawberries and other crops; he discusses his life in the program, and how he was forced to return to México when he became ill due to the food they received in the camps; furthermore, he states that he returned to the U.S. as an undocumented worker after the program was terminated; he concludes by expressing his disappointment at not having made the most of his opportunities during the program, and not having saved more money.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Jesse Treviño was born on December 25, 1925, in Harlingen, Texas; he was employed by the Department of Labor as a compliance officer; his office was in San Benito, Texas, but he also went to the bracero processing center in Harlingen, Texas, on a regular basis; he later worked for an insurance company that catered to the bracero community.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Treviño recalls being employed by the Department of Labor as a compliance officer; his office was in San Benito, Texas, but he also went to the bracero processing center in Harlingen, Texas, on a regular basis; as a compliance officer, he ensured that the contracts between farmers and braceros were adhered to while working on behalf of the farmers; on average, it cost between seven and eleven dollars to process each worker, and the farmers had to pay them at least minimum wage or adequately based on the weight of cotton they picked; in addition, the farmers were required to provide medical and life insurance, clean beds, transportation, utensils with which to cook, and other such things; he goes on to describe how he often worked closely with members of the Mexican consulate, who worked on behalf of the braceros, to investigate cases; together, they were able to handle cases quickly and easily; while working as a compliance officer, he was discriminated against, and he was continually passed over for raises and promotions even though he was the only one with a college degree; in light of this, he left his job there, and began working with an insurance company that catered to the bracero community; there were a number of braceros who died due to sunstroke, and the company had to pay the families several thousands of dollars in compensation; he goes on to describe other experiences he had while working with the company.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Aida Bareda Torres was born on July 31, 1934, and her sister, Tula Bareda Sánchez, was born on December 1, 1935; they were both born in Mission, Texas; their father worked as a local doctor, and coincidentally delivered Aida; during the 1950s, both girls began working as typists, during the summers, at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas.


Summary of Interview: Aida and Tula recall their time working as typists at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas, during the 1950s; they initially learned about the job through word of mouth; upon being hired, they were contracted with the federal government, and given government classifications; although there were different shifts because the center was open twenty-four hours a day, they worked the morning shift, which lasted eight hours; the girls were allowed to take brakes, and they often brought a sack lunch; the braceros were brought into the center, which was a huge warehouse, and they were taken into holding rooms; they were then brought into a big hall and grouped according to where they came from so that they could stand in line and wait for their information to be taken at the screening station where the girls worked; the braceros would hand a paper to the girls, and they would ask basic biographical questions and type out the answers; the girls would then hand the paper back to the workers so they could take it to the next station; oftentimes, the girls would get bored of asking the same questions, and they would ask about the men’s scars or wives to break the monotony; although the girls never saw much of what happened beyond their station, they had heard about the braceros being fumigated; the girls also mention that their uncle had a store downtown, which was often frequented by braceros.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Aida Bareda Torres was born on July 31, 1934, and her sister, Tula Bareda Sánchez, was born on December 1, 1935; they were both born in Mission, Texas; their father worked as a local doctor, and coincidentally delivered Aida; during the 1950s, both girls began working as typists, during the summers, at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas.


Summary of Interview: Aida and Tula recall their time working as typists at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas, during the 1950s; they initially learned about the job through word of mouth; upon being hired, they were contracted with the federal government, and given government classifications; although there were different shifts because the center was open twenty-four hours a day, they worked the morning shift, which lasted eight hours; the girls were allowed to take brakes, and they often brought a sack lunch; the braceros were brought into the center, which was a huge warehouse, and they were taken into holding rooms; they were then brought into a big hall and grouped according to where they came from so that they could stand in line and wait for their information to be taken at the screening station where the girls worked; the braceros would hand a paper to the girls, and they would ask basic biographical questions and type out the answers; the girls would then hand the paper back to the workers so they could take it to the next station; oftentimes, the girls would get bored of asking the same questions, and they would ask about the men’s scars or wives to break the monotony; although the girls never saw much of what happened beyond their station, they had heard about the braceros being fumigated; the girls also mention that their uncle had a store downtown, which was often frequented by braceros.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Carol Norquest Jr. was born on November 27, 1934, in Edinburg, Texas; her father owned about 100 acres of farm land, and the primary crop was cotton; as a child she helped work the land, and later as an adult, she ran the farm; in the late 1940s and all through the 1950s, her father hired braceros to help with the crops.


Summary of Interview: Ms. Norquest recalls growing up as a child on her father’s farm; her family owned 100 acres of land, and they rented another 200 acres; their primary crop was cotton, but they also had carrots, citrus, corn, grain, and tomatoes; she and her siblings would help during the harvest by picking and weighing cotton; in the late 1940s and all through the 1950s, her father hired braceros to help with the crops; there was an average of five to ten workers that stayed on year round, and more during the harvesting season; her father hired a number of skilled laborers, such as irrigators and tractor drivers, on a permanent basis, and a few of them later became United States citizens; she mentions that her father had to abide by strict government standards with regard to housing, pay, and medical insurance; some of the braceros preferred going to doctors in México, and her father would drive them across the border if necessary; he would also give workers bonuses at the end of a season as an incentive for them to come back and work for him; she recalls one instance when her father did not have enough money to pay everyone the minimum wage, but the they agreed to work for him anyway; one worker reported him to government officials, but he was shunned by the bracero community for having made such a statement; she goes on to recall other specific incidents with braceros as well; overall, her family developed great relationships with the braceros, and a number of them stayed in touch with the family long after they stopped working together.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Leo Montalvo was born on June 9, 1943, in México; when he was nine years old, he came to the United States; he also worked in the fields for a time; during his senior year in high school, he worked as an assistant cook at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas; while there, he worked in the kitchen helping to prepare meals and cleaning; he went to college and eventually graduated from law school; later, he became involved in politics, and he went on to serve two terms as mayor of McAllen, Texas.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Montalvo recalls his senior year in high school when he worked as an assistant cook at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas; his shift started after school at 3:30 and lasted until 11:30; in addition, he also worked Saturdays and Sundays; he earned a little over $1.00 an hour; the braceros were given breakfast, lunch, and dinner; the meals consisted of chicken or meat, which was prepared as carne guisada, picadillo, or papas con carne picada, beans, powdered potatoes, bread, milk or an orange drink, and fresh fruit; anywhere between 200 and 300 people would eat at once, depending on the time of day; breakfast was served between 7:00 and 7:30, and dinner was served between 5:30 and 6:00; the braceros were always allowed a second serving if they so desired, and they were never denied more food; the mess hall was comprised of an open area with nothing but tables and up front was the counter; in order to get served a meal, the men would move in a line alongside the counter with their trays; he goes on to recall particular instances with braceros while he was in town; in addition, he comments on how and why he views the use of braceros as exploitative; in his opinion, a legal guest worker program would be beneficial insofar as it would ensure payment for the workers and provide an avenue for complaints.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Laurentina Ramos was born on August 24, 1922, in Rio Grande City, Texas; her parents were migrant workers, and she consequently went to school in Roma, Texas; in 1945, she married Benito Juárez; he owned a ranch that had been in his family for several generations; in the mid 1950s, they began hiring braceros to help with the harvesting of the cotton.


Summary of Interview: Ms. Ramos married Benito Juárez in 1945; her husband owned a ranch in Delmita, Texas, that had been in his family for several generations; although her parents were migrant workers, she did not begin ranching until shortly after getting married; she and her husband knew about the braceros because they would often come to work in the neighboring city of Edinburg, Texas; in the mid 1950s, they began hiring braceros to help during the cotton season; they would hire between eighteen and twenty workers to help with the harvesting of the cotton; Laurentina recalls that most of the workers were between the ages of twenty and forty; the braceros would stay in the old abandoned house that belonged to Benito’s parents; although there were no beds in the house, the workers were given plenty of blankets and a radio for entertainment; they would use the bathrooms and washing machines in the main house; oftentimes, the braceros were passed on to her brother-in-law, and they would help him on his ranch; she would interact with the braceros often, as she would weigh the cotton they picked; in addition, she goes on to describe what some of the braceros were like in general and specific memories she has of them.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Reynaldo Chapa was born on July 17, 1932, in Edinburg, Texas, but he was raised in Mission, Texas; in 1951, he graduated from high school; after graduating, he enlisted in the service, and he finished his tour of duty in 1955; after leaving the service, he began going to school at the University of Texas-Pan American; that summer he started working at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas; he continued working summers there until 1957; a year later, in 1958, he graduated from the university.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Chapa remembers getting out of the service in 1955; shortly thereafter, he began going to school at the University of Texas-Pan American; that summer he started working at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas; he worked in the selection area, which is where the braceros were sent after their medical exams when they were ready to be processed; in addition, he worked with the men that were not chosen, often due to illness, and were sent back to México; his brother also worked with him at the center as a foreign labor escort; as an escort, he would cross the border along with three or four other men to pick up potential braceros in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, México, and bring them to the center in Hidalgo; upon arriving at the center, the men were searched for drugs and weapons, fingerprinted, and medically examined, which included x-rays and delousing; the braceros were primarily hired to pick cotton in the area, but sometimes they were sent to work as far away as Arkansas or Michigan; in such an event, the farmers were responsible for transporting the braceros by bus; in addition, the farmers were expected to adhere to strict regulations with regard to their treatment of the braceros; there were about 4,000 braceros processed in a day at the center, and when things slowed down, they processed about 2,000 braceros per day.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Alberto de Loera was born on April 16, 1940, in Calvillo, Aguascalientes, México; his father was a farmer who taught him how to work the land; he went to school only through the third grade, and from then on spent his time helping his father on the farm; in 1959, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero he worked in Arizona, California, and Texas, picking beets, cotton, lemons, lettuce, and tomatoes.


Summary of Interview: Mr. De Loera recalls his childhood and adolescence; in 1959, he decided to enroll in the bracero program; in order to begin the hiring process, he traveled from Aguascalientes to Empalme, Sonora, México; once he arrived at the processing center in Empalme, he underwent medical exams, including blood samples and x-rays; he also mentions that he was deloused and stripped in front of others as part of the medical procedures; upon being hired, he was transported by cargo train to the border along with thousands of other workers; the train had wooden benches, and he comments that the ride made him feel as though he was being treated like an animal; as a bracero, his first work contract took him to California where he picked beets and tomatoes; his subsequent contracts took him to Arizona to pick lettuce, Texas to pick cotton, and he then returned to California to pick lemons; each time he was contracted he went through the center in Empalme, Sonora, and once he went through Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; he describes the various contract lengths, amendments, extensions, and stipulations; in addition, he explains the difference between hourly and contractual pay wages; he recalls one incident when he injured his leg and was unable to work for a month; although he was not paid for the days he did not work, the doctor bill was paid; when he returned to México, he worked in the fields and in construction, but in 1971, he crossed into the United States illegally to work.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Cayetano Vázquez was born on August 7, 1929, in Concepción del Oro, Zacatecas, México; his father was a farmer, and he owned the land he worked; as a teenager, Cayetano worked in the mines of his hometown; in 1951, he crossed into the United States illegally in order to work, and he was deported shortly thereafter; two years later, in 1953, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero he worked picking various fruits and vegetables throughout the United States; he continued working with the program until 1964.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Vázquez briefly discusses his childhood and family; he recounts his time working in the mines of his hometown, in Concepción de Oro, Zacatecas, México; in 1951, he crossed into the United States illegally in order to work, and he was deported shortly thereafter; two years later, in 1953, he decided to enlist in the bracero program, and he traveled to Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, to begin the process; after paying for the trip there, he had very little money left, and he had to wait two weeks before being hired; as a bracero he worked picking various fruits and vegetables throughout the United States; after each contract ended, he returned to México and began the hiring process all over again; he went through centers in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Empalme, Sonora, Hidalgo, Hidalgo, and Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; he goes on to describe the various places he worked as well as the range of jobs he performed; in addition, he comments on the contract amendments and lengths; he recalls working in Arkansas, and repeatedly being sent back and forth between there and Michigan; from 1958 to 1960, he worked primarily in California; in January of 1964, he was hired on his last contract, and he worked irrigating cotton fields.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Juan Torres was born on January 23, 1941, in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, México; his father was a farmer, and he was the fourth eldest in a family of eleven; when he was thirteen years old, he went to school for only a year; his first job was helping his father work on the farm; he later worked as a gardener and in construction; in 1959, he decided to enroll in the bracero program; as a bracero, he worked in California and Texas, picking asparagus, beets, cotton, cucumbers, tomatoes, and strawberries; he continued working with the program until 1964.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Torres recalls his family and childhood; he also discusses his adolescence, and the various types of work he performed; in 1959, he decided to enlist in the bracero program; he signed his first work contract in Hidalgo, Texas, which took him to work in Raymondville, Texas; while there he picked cotton for the first time in his life; as a bracero, he worked in California and Texas, picking asparagus, beets, cotton, cucumbers, tomatoes, and strawberries; he goes on to describe the various things he would do in his free time, such as go to church, the movies, or into town to shop; in spite of his excursions, he would often send money home to his family; although he was generally in good health, he recalls one instance in which he had infection he believes he caught from picking cucumbers; he was taken to a doctor and prescribed medication that alleviated the infection; when the program ended in 1964, he returned to his hometown of Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, México; he continued working in the fields there, but he also went to school and learned how to fix tractors; sometime later, he came into the United States illegally to work; although he was deported, he returned and continued to work as farm laborer.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Ceferino Palomares was born on December 1, 1922, in Tampico, Tamaulipas, México; his father died when he was young, and his maternal grandfather cared for the family shortly thereafter; sometime later, his mother also passed away, and the family eventually drifted apart; in 1944, he decided to enroll in the bracero program; as a bracero he worked in Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania; his duties included working in the fields, in a manufacturing plant, and on the railroads.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Palomares discusses his family and childhood; he initially learned about the bracero program through an advertisement in the local newspaper; his brother, Alfonso, encouraged him to enroll in the program; in 1944, they were both hired at the contracting center in their hometown of Tampico, Tamaulipas, México; consequently, Ceferino continued to go through the center in Tampico for all of his subsequent work contracts; his first contract took him to work on the railroads in Union City, Pennsylvania; when his contract ended six months later, he returned to México; the following year, in 1945, he went to work in a steel plant in Chicago, Illinois, that manufactured military armor; while working there, he had an accident that nearly cut off his left foot; he later decided to break his contract due to the horrible working conditions, and a cousin of his found him work in a laundry mat; in 1947, he worked in the lemon fields of Ohio; after the war was over, he came into the United States illegally to live with his brother in Chicago, and he was later deported; he goes on to comment on Mexican workers who come into the United States in search of a better life and how they are often taken advantage of.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: José Ortiz was born on March 25, 1934, in Doctor Arroyo, Nuevo León, México; his parents were farmers, and he had six brothers and three sisters; when he was eight years old, he went to school for roughly six months before leaving to help his family with the farming duties; in 1954, he decided to enroll in the bracero program; as a bracero, he worked picking crops in Arkansas and Texas.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Ortiz describes his childhood and adolescence; he initially learned about the bracero program through radio advertisements, and in 1954, he decided to enlist; in order to begin the hiring process, he and his brother traveled to the contracting center in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; he goes on to describe what he went through at the center, including the huge crowds, waiting time, medical exams, provisions, and transportation services; upon crossing the border in Eagle Pass, Texas, he underwent a second set of medical exams, which consisted of blood samples and a delousing process; as a bracero, he worked in Arkansas and Texas, where he primarily picked crops; he explains what life was like in the work camps, while detailing how the workers would go about preparing their food; in addition, he discusses how he would send money home to his family and how he would go shopping to buy them gifts during his spare time; he also mentions that although he had several opportunities to arrange for legal residency in the United States, he preferred to stay in his hometown of Doctor Arroyo, Nuevo León, México.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Socorro O. Perez was born and raised in El Paso, Texas; in 1954, she began working as a clerk and typist at Rio Vista, a bracero processing center in Socorro, Texas; she continued working there until 1957, and she later went on to become a teacher in the Ysleta and Socorro Independent School Districts.


Summary of Interview: Ms. Perez recalls how she spent her childhood and adolescence moving around in El Paso; after graduating from high school, her uncle, who worked for the employment commission, informed her that there were job openings at the local immigration offices; she applied and went through the hiring process; upon being hired in 1954, she began working as a clerk and typist at Rio Vista, a bracero processing center in Socorro, Texas; she describes what her duties consisted of while working there and the kinds of questions she asked the braceros; her observations of the braceros led her to conclude that they were humble people, and that more often than not, they were taken advantage of; she goes on to describe why she stopped working there in 1957; later, in 1972, she went back to working for immigration, but only part-time; she ends with general comments and observations about the braceros.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Samuel Chavira Medrano was born in September of 1925, in the municipality of General Frías, Chihuahua, México; his father was a farmer who taught him the agricultural trade; he and his family eventually moved to the Chihuahua, Chihuahua; in 1949, he married, and nearly a year later, enrolled in the bracero program.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Chavira briefly recalls his childhood; at the age of thirteen, he began working odd jobs wherever he could find them; for a brief time, he worked in construction; he knew of the bracero program because he lived in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, which was one of the programs main contracting centers; in 1950, he began the hiring process to become a bracero; he goes on to give a detailed explanation of the various phases during hiring, including his transfer to Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas, where he was medically examined; in addition, he describes filling out the necessary paperwork; his main duties included agricultural work and caring for the cattle; as a bracero, he worked in Illinois, New Mexico, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Wisconsin; in 1952, with the help of his boss, he became a legal United States resident; two years later, he was able to do the same for his family.