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Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: John L. Agustine was born in El Paso, Texas, on August 29, 1914; his father worked in the mines of Lordsburg, New Mexico; he received a degree in agriculture from New Mexico State University and taught for a brief time; from there, he went on to become an assistant agent for Doña Ana County, where he served as a liaison for the bracero program.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Augustine’s first working experience was teaching vocational agriculture in the Farmington Public School System; from there, he went on to become an assistant agent for Doña Ana County under Mr. Lee Gould; upon Mr. Gould’s retirement, Mr. Augustine served as county agent for about ten years; these ten years roughly coincide with the first decade of the bracero program; as an acting liaison for the bracero program, it was his job to ensure that things ran smoothly; he would report the number of necessary workers the farmers needed to the contracting agency; in addition, he intervened and settled disputes between farmers and braceros, and he also required farmers to provide adequate housing according to the program standards; he also recalls the specific harvest seasons braceros were hired and their corresponding duties; to the best of his recollection, there were never any major problems with the program; the use of the braceros provided a symbiotic relationship in which the needs of both the braceros and the farmers were met.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Ismael Díaz de León was born on June 17, 1926, in El Paso, Texas; he and his family moved to Aguascalientes, México, when he was only two years old; in 1943, he became a bracero, and he worked primarily in the cornfields and picking apples in Washington; he continued to work as a bracero for the next fifteen years.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Diaz briefly recounts his childhood; his father worked on the railroads in El Paso, Texas; when he was still young, his father became very ill and moved the family to Aguascalientes, México; his grandfather set up a business for his father there, and the family decided to stay; in 1943, he began the hiring process for the bracero program; at that time, the El Paso County Coliseum was the reception center for incoming braceros; his worst job was working in the cotton fields of Texas; while working in the fields he recalls that the workers would often sing songs to help pass the time.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Ismael Chavira Lopez was born on June 17, 1925, in El Belduque, Valle de Zaragosa, Chihuahua, México, but he grew up in Julimes, Chihuahua; he was the eldest of five brothers; at the age of ten, he began helping his father with agricultural tasks; in 1953, he was hired as a bracero and continued working as such until 1964; he worked in New Mexico picking cotton and irrigating the fields.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Chavira briefly recounts his childhood; his first paying job was as a construction worker; in 1953, he went through the hiring process in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, to become a bracero; he chronicles the entire process, which began in a rural area of Chihuahua and ended with the medical examinations at Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas; in addition, he describes the various processing center facilities, the length of contracts, and the conditions under which these contracts were extended; while working as a bracero, his daily activities included irrigating and picking cotton; he describes the wages he earned, the methods of payment, and how braceros would send money home to their families in México; in addition, he goes on to detail what the farms where he worked and lived were like, what kinds of food they cooked and ate, what their hobbies were, and how they often received permission from their employers to cross the border on weekends; furthermore, he concludes that he is very proud to have participated in the bracero program, and that it had a huge impact not only on his family, but on him as well.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Isidro Peña Millan was born on May 15, 1937, in Rancho de Peñas, in the municipality of Satevó, Chihuahua, México; he was the eldest of his nine siblings; when he was nine years old, he and his family moved to Chihuahua, Chihuahua, where he worked odd jobs whenever he could; later, in 1957, he enrolled in the bracero program; as a bracero, he picked cotton in Texas and New Mexico, and continued to do so until 1961.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Peña describes his early adolescence and the various kinds of work he did; in 1957, he decided he wanted to work as a bracero; the first thing he had to do was pay someone to put his name on the county’s list of people to be called as workers; he then went to El Trocadero, a processing center in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, in order to officially begin the hiring process for the program; after this, he was transported from Chihuahua to the border by train and then taken to Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas, where he was medically examined; he goes on to describe his first job picking cotton, the wages he received, the living conditions on the farms where he lived, the food they cooked and ate, their hobbies, and what they did on weekends and in their spare time; in addition, he also explains how braceros were able to extend their working contracts without having to leave the country; years later, he became a United States resident.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Isidro Buso was born and raised in Delicias, Chihuahua, México, on March 16, 1942; he was the eldest of his four brothers and sister; his father was a construction worker who taught him the trade; at the age of seventeen, he began working in construction; in 1962, he enrolled in the bracero program; while working as a bracero, his various jobs included picking cotton, driving cattle, and feeding hens.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Buso briefly recalls his childhood and adolescence; in 1962, he went through the hiring process in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, and from there was sent to Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas; he gives a detailed description of his various jobs as a bracero, which included, picking cotton, castrating and driving cattle, and feeding hens; in addition, he also discusses housing issues, the various wages earned, the methods of payment, the length of his contracts, and one instance of racism experienced by his friend who was an African American; sometime later, he decided to become a legal resident, and he details the procedures associated with doing so and how it changed his life; he remarks that his dreams and illusions of working in the United States were well worth any inconveniences he might have faced.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Inez Rios was born in El Paso, Texas, on April 20, 1936; she grew up on a farm near Ysleta, Texas, with her eight brothers and sisters; her father was the head foreman on the farm where they lived; braceros were often hired to help with the land and harvesting of cotton.


Summary of Interview: Ms. Rios recalls her childhood and what it was like growing up on a farm near Ysleta, Texas, where her father was the foreman; she recalls that prior to the bracero program, there were a number of undocumented workers on the farm; they were often caught by immigration services and returned to México; sometime later, roughly in 1948, braceros were hired to work on the farm; they were contracted through Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas; she recalls how the braceros were chosen and transported to the farm; in addition, she remembers what their living conditions were like, their specific jobs and wages, the kinds of food and clothes they bought, and how she and her family often helped them; during the 1950s, she worked in Oregon and Washington for about nine years because the pay there was much better than it was in El Paso, Texas; there were also braceros working in Washington at that time; sometimes German POWs would pick cotton as well.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Herminina Reza Contreras was born on May 5, 1920, in Douglas, Arizona; she had eight brothers and sisters; because her father worked for the railroads, her family moved to El Paso, Texas, when she was thirteen years old; in 1951, she began working with immigration services; later, in 1953, she went to work for the Department of Labor, and stayed there until 1963; both jobs entailed working closely with the bracero program.


Summary of Interview: Ms. Reza briefly recounts her childhood; when she was thirteen years old, she moved with her family from Douglas, Arizona to El Paso, Texas; in 1951, she began working with immigration services, where she was in constant contact with braceros; her boss recommended that she look for work with the Department of Labor, and later, in 1953, she did; while there, she worked for the administrative offices of Rio Vista, a processing center for braceros in Socorro, Texas; she provides a detailed description of the buildings and offices and of the processing procedures; her primary responsibility was to oversee the contracting aspect of the program; she was in charge of making sure the appropriate permits were in place in order for farmers and ranchers to hire braceros and that the proper amount of money for the contracts was received as well; the contractors were primarily from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming; in addition, she mentions the names of several employees she worked with, including Mr. Carlos Corella [See also No. XX]; she continued to work for the Department of Labor until 1963.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Gregorio Trejo was born on May 9, 1925, in Sánchez Román, Zacatecas, México; he began working with his father in the fields at a very young age and consequently never received any formal schooling; later in 1947, he became a bracero and worked in the corn, potato, and cotton fields of Illinois, Nebraska, and New Mexico.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Trejo very briefly recalls his childhood; when he was nine years old, he and his family moved to Plateros, Zacatecas, México; from there they moved to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, before returning to Zacatecas; because one of the recruiting and contracting centers was in Zacatecas, Zacatecas, he was aware of the bracero program; he recalls that the governor of Zacatecas did not want workers from the cities of Fresnillo or Plateros to be hired as braceros because there was plenty of work for them to stay and do in the mines; in spite of this, he managed to have his name put on the county’s list of workers in Zacatecas; he and other braceros were transported from Zacatecas to Irapuato, Guanajuato, for medical exams and vaccinations; while being transported to Illinois by train, they had to stop because the railroad workers were on strike; he also mentions that he and other braceros had a very good insurance plan; in addition, he goes on to describe how one of his coworkers passed away while working in the cornfields of Illinois, and how the ranchers behaved both during and after the tragic accident.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: George H. Veytia was born in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México, on October 1, 1931; he had two sisters and one brother; when he was only a month old, his family moved to El Paso, Texas, which is where he grew up; he graduated from Texas Western in 1954, and he served in the Army from 1954 to 1956; after being released from the Army, he began working as a claims adjuster for an insurance company that serviced a number of braceros.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Veytia briefly recalls his family and childhood; he graduated from Texas Western in 1954, and shortly thereafter joined the Army, where he served until 1956; after being released from the Army, he came to work as a claims adjuster for an insurance company; his primary responsibility was to receive all the claims from the bracero program in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas; he describes his position with the company, the various types of policies that were applicable in different situations, their coverage, the company’s range of action, and the average number of insured braceros during a harvesting season; in addition, he details what his professional relationships with the Mexican authorities, farmers, doctors, and braceros were like; he explains what many of the common claims were and what the normal procedures were in the event of an illness.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Flora Garcia Villalva was born in El Paso, Texas; she had two sisters and one brother, and together they grew up in the Lower Valley area of El Paso; her father owned a grocery store where many of his clients were braceros; while still attending Ysleta High School, she began working as a clerk and typist at Rio Vista, a processing center for braceros in Socorro, Texas; she worked there from 1954 to 1958.


Summary of Interview: Ms. Garcia remembers the grocery store her father owned and operated for thirty-five years; because the store was in an area where there were a number of cotton fields, many of their clients were braceros, with whom they developed a close relationship over time; her father had a friend who worked for the El Paso Cotton Association, and recommended her for a job at Rio Vista, a bracero processing center in Socorro, Texas, where she later became a clerk and typist; he also recommended her for a job with the Department of Labor; while working at Rio Vista, she would type and process the paperwork necessary for bracero contracts; each bracero would take at least thirty minutes to complete the papers with her; she gives a detailed description of the various procedures she was aware of and comments that there were several departments the braceros had to go through, including immigration, health, labor, and transportation; she worked there only during the summers from 1954 to 1958; later, while working at the Department of Labor, she recalls that inspectors often visited with the contractors to ensure that the working and living conditions for the braceros were up to standards.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Fernando Rodriguez was born in El Paso, Texas, on January 22, 1937; upon graduating from high school in 1954, he went into the United States Navy; when he left the Navy in 1959, he began working as a clerk and typist for Rio Vista, a processing center for braceros in Socorro, Texas.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Rodriguez recalls that as a teenager, he worked at a grocery store near a ranch that employed braceros; because the braceros were not allowed to leave the ranch, he would often go and collect a list of groceries from them in order to bring them what they needed; later, in 1954, when he graduated from high school, he went into the Navy; when his tour of duty was over in 1959, he began working as a clerk and typist for Rio Vista, a processing center for the bracero program in Socorro, Texas; his work there was temporary and coincided with the cotton seasons in 1959 and 1960; he describes the facilities and the various procedures that braceros went through while at the center and what his various responsibilities entailed; in addition, he mentions several interesting anecdotes about his different experiences with braceros.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Faye Terrazas was born on August 6, 1930, in El Paso, Texas; both of her parents were Mexican nationals who immigrated to the United States before she was born; in 1954, she began working as a clerk and typist at Rio Vista, a bracero processing center in Socorro, Texas; she worked there seasonally until 1957.


Summary of Interview: Ms. Terrazas recalls responding to an advertisement and being hired to work as a clerk and typist at Rio Vista, a bracero processing center in Socorro, Texas; she worked there seasonally during the spring and summer from 1954 to 1957; her primary responsibility was filling out the contracts for the braceros; she offers detailed descriptions of the facilities and the process for filling out the contracts; there were specific insurance specifications that detailed what the braceros were entitled to receive in the event of an injury or accident; her knowledge of the other screening procedures is somewhat limited; she gives an emotional description of what it was like for the families to be separated and how terrible the delousing process was for the braceros; in addition, she comments on how the braceros seemed very shy and fearful upon first entering the United States, but when they went through the center again, they were generally more open and talkative.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Esteban Saldaña was born on December 25, 1929, in San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí, México; as a child, he often helped his father work on their ranch and care for the animals; he never received any formal schooling; when he was twenty-one years old, he stopped working for his father and began the hiring process for the bracero program; he worked on and off as a bracero from 1949 to 1954.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Saldaña spent his childhood and adolescence helping his father work the land and care for the animals they owned; he married when he was only seventeen years old, and he had children shortly thereafter; when he was twenty-one years old, he stopped working for his father in order to become a bracero and make more money to support his family; he had heard of the bracero program through media and news advertisements; for this first contract, he went to Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, which in turn took him to work in Lovington, New Mexico, for three months; he later went through contracting centers in Durango and Monterrey México to find work; from 1949 to 1952, he worked as a bracero; he recalls that their meals consisted of a sandwich and an apple each day, for which they had to pay $12.00 per week; in 1953, he worked illegally in the United States, and a year later, in 1954, he was again able to work legally as a bracero; he comments that there were no differences in salary or duties while he worked illegally; that same year, while working in Arkansas, he organized a strike for workers to get paid 10¢ more per pound of cotton that they picked.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Emilio Solis Pallares was born in 1923, in San Miguel Chihuahua, México; his father died when he was eleven years old, and he had to start working in order to help support his family; he was the only one of five siblings to stay with his mother after his father’s death; in 1947, he began working as a bracero, and continued working as such until 1962.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Solis briefly recalls his childhood; after his father’s death, he began working in the fields when he was only eleven years old; he continued working in agriculture throughout his adolescence and young adulthood; in 1943, financial difficulties coupled with a shortage of work led him to the United States to work illegally; he had great difficulties while working in the U.S. because he was often caught by immigration; although by this point he had learned of the bracero program, he could not afford to go to Chihuahua, Chihuahua to begin the hiring process; in 1947, he was finally able to afford the trip to Chihuahua in order to enroll in the bracero program; the following year, in 1948, he comments that they were not allowed to work as braceros; he recalls that in 1949, the El Paso County Coliseum was used as a reception center for incoming workers; he worked on and off as a bracero from 1947 to 1962.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Elías Bonilla was born on April 1, 1934, in Tornillo, Texas; his father was originally from Chihuahua, México, and his mother was originally from Coahuila, México; he was the eldest of five children; his father managed a grocery store in Tornillo and was also involved in the family construction business; for a brief time, his family moved to California but returned to Tornillo; he helped his father at a commissary on Allison Farms, where many of the clients were braceros.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Bonilla recalls his childhood growing up in Tornillo, Texas; he goes into great detail about the construction work his father and grandfather would do with adobe buildings and houses; his family moved to California from 1946 to 1949 then returned to Tornillo; upon returning to Tornillo, he helped his father work at a commissary on Allison Farms; he describes the commissary and the various services they provided for the braceros; in addition, he recalls what kinds of items the braceros would buy, what their favorite things were, and how the kinds of clothes they wore were often very telling of the different cities in México that they came from; in 1952, he left to join the military, and goes on to tell what his experiences were like while in the military and what life was like afterward as well.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Eleanor Martin was born on March 1, 1932, in Colorado City, Texas; her father worked for Southern Pacific Railroad, and as a result, they moved around quite often; she attended Texas Women’s University in Denton, Texas; in order to support herself financially while going to school, she began working at Allison Farms as a payroll bookkeeper for braceros during the cotton season.


Summary of Interview: Ms. Martin briefly recalls how she spent much of her childhood moving around due to her father’s job with Southern Pacific Railroad; after graduating from high school, her parents moved to Tornillo, Texas, and she began going to school at Texas Women’s University in Denton, Texas; in order to support herself financially she moved to Tornillo with her parents and began working as a bookkeeper for Allison farms; she kept the payroll books for the braceros during the cotton season; it was her responsibility to handle all the paperwork and financial figures for the weekly pay of the braceros; she details how they were paid and how and where they worked and lived; in addition, she describes how the cotton was weighed in order to calculate their salaries; because the cotton season lasted from September through January, she was able to go to school during the spring and summer semesters.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Eduardo De Santiago was born in Jerez, Zacatecas, México; he had seven sisters and only one brother; his father took him out of school when he was in third grade because he needed help working the land; he worked as a bracero form 1954 to 1960; while a bracero he was promoted to ranch foreman.


Summary of Interview: Mr. De Santiago worked on a ranch in Zacatecas, México, prior to becoming a bracero; in 1954, when he learned of the bracero program, he made a list of all the people who worked with him that wanted to go to the United States as braceros; he was of course included on that list; upon beginning the hiring process in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, the braceros were asked to undress for physical examinations; they were then vaccinated and deloused; in Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas, ranchers from Pecos, Texas, came to hire braceros; none of the workers wanted to go with them because they had heard about a number of bad experiences there; Mr. De Santiago worked primarily in the cotton fields of Texas; he recalls how many braceros would use tricks to weigh down their cotton in order to get paid more; over time, he was promoted to head foreman of the ranch where he worked; he worked as a bracero from 1954 to 1960.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Delia Montero de Tiscareño was born on October 4, 1928, in Durango, Durango, México; when she was two years old, she and her family moved to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, which is where she grew up; although she was raised in Juárez, she went to school in El Paso, Texas; upon graduating from high school in 1945, she began working for an American immigration office in Ciudad Juárez.


Summary of Interview: Ms. Montero briefly describes her childhood; when she was two years old, she and her family moved from Durango, Durango, México, to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México; she went to school in El Paso, Texas and in 1945, she graduated from high school; shortly thereafter, she began working as a clerk and typist at an American immigration office in Ciudad Juárez; her job was to help the incoming braceros fill out the necessary paper work for their contracts; she describes how the ranchers would wait for the braceros to finish filling out the papers so they could immediately take them back to their ranches to work; in addition, she comments that the braceros were taken directly from there to the ranches to work, and there was no processing center involved.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: David F. Herrera was born in 1925, and soon after, his family moved to Mesquite, New Mexico; he went through two years of college at New Mexico Statue University, where he focused on civil engineering; shortly thereafter, he followed in his father’s footsteps and began farming; he began hiring braceros to help him on the farm in the mid 1950s.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Herrera recalls that in 1946, after attending New Mexico State University for two years, he began farming in Mesquite, New Mexico, with only twelve acres of land; gradually, he acquired more land, and in the mid 1950s he began hiring braceros; with the help of his friends he would pick the braceros up at Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas; the braceros primarily helped him with the cotton harvest beginning in late August and continuing through February; he would hire twenty braceros for the harvest; the workers were housed in renovated adobe buildings with electricity and running water; they would often walk to nearby stores to buy necessities or would wait until the weekends to go to Anthony or Las Cruces, New Mexico; he would furnish the braceros with the bags they needed to pick cotton; oftentimes, he and a neighbor would share braceros as necessary for finishing work; in his opinion, it was pressure from the labor unions that ultimately caused the demise of the bracero program.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Cora C. Reyes was born in Mesilla, New Mexico, on January 1, 1926, to a family of farmers; her family moved to La Mesa, New Mexico, in order to take in her aunt’s orphaned children; in 1944, she married Silvestre Reyes, who was also from a family of farmers; the Reyes family often hired braceros throughout the duration of the bracero program;


Summary of Interview: Mrs. Reyes briefly recalls her childhood and early adolescence; she went to school only through eighth grade, because she had to help her parents at home and on their farm; in 1944, she married her husband, Silvestre Reyes, who was also a farmer; the Reyes family often hired braceros, and there were some who continued to work for the family for over thirty years, which included the time during the bracero program and upon their naturalization; the Reyes’s built a house for three particular braceros who brought their families with them and stayed on the farm year-round; the seasonal braceros would sleep on bunk beds in the barn, but they would share the facilities in the main house; on holidays, many of the braceros would return to México to see their relatives; Mrs. Reyes recalls one tragic accident where a worker was strangled by a cotton picking machine; her husband would hire undocumented workers who were in need of work, and he would hide them whenever immigration officers would show up; she concludes that she thought very well of the braceros and had few if any problems with them; in addition, she comments that many of the local farmers would not have survived without the help of the braceros.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Consuelo Lerma was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on December 1, 1917; in 1949, she began working for the Singer Sewing Center in Las Cruces; after receiving training, she began teaching sewing classes for the wives of braceros and other low-income farm women.


Summary of Interview: Ms. Lerma recalls that in 1949, she began working for the Singer Sewing Center in her hometown of Las Cruces, New Mexico; she went to El Paso, Texas, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, to receive training on how to use the machines and their various attachments and how to teach others to sew; shortly thereafter, she then began teaching a sewing class for the wives of braceros and other low-income farm women; the classes were offered through the Home Education Livelihood Program and jointly sponsored by the government and area churches; the government provided the fabric and necessary materials, and the Singer Company supplied the machines; the classes were given in Vado, New Mexico, in the morning, afternoon, and evening once a week; the women taking her class spoke only Spanish, and she taught them what little English she could; they were from the San Miguel, La Mesa, and Vado area; the women focused primarily on making dresses. [Interviewer’s Note: Ms. Lerma was uncertain of the exact years she taught the classes, but she was adamant about these women being the wives of braceros.]

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Celia Berton was born in El Paso, Texas, in December of 1934; upon graduating from Loretto Academy, she took a civil service exam; her qualifications for typing and stenography led to her to work for INS, the Immigration and Naturalization Service; she worked as a bilingual court typist for the bracero program at Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas.


Summary of Interview: Upon graduating from high school, Ms. Berton took a civil service exam; based on her test scores and her qualifications for typing and stenography, she was hired to work for INS, the Immigration and Naturalization Service; during the summer of 1953, while going to school at Texas Western, she worked as a bilingual court typist for the bracero program at Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas, where she received minimal training; her primary responsibility was to interview braceros in Spanish and fill out their paperwork in English; she explains the procedures the braceros had to go through while there, which included medical exams, a shower, a haircut from the on-site barbershop, photographs, and fingerprints; she worked at Rio Vista, for a total of two years and also half a year at the Santa Fe Bridge in El Paso, Texas.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Cecilia E. Concha was born in El Paso, Texas, in October of 1925; she was the second generation in her family to be born in the United States; in 1896, her grandfather immigrated into the United States through El Paso, Texas; her mother was born in Ysleta, Texas, and her father was born in Guanajuato México.


Summary of Interview: Ms. Concha recalls what it was like growing up during the 1930s; her mother would shop in Ciudad Juárez, México, in order to avoid the rationing of food; she recounts her memories of World War II, while she was a high school student at St. Joseph’s Academy from 1941 to 1945; in addition, she describes the discrimination immigrants in El Paso, Texas, faced; she also details her employment opportunities during and after the war; her grandfather, Trinidad Concha, served as an assistant director to Profirio Díaz, before arriving in El Paso, in 1896; he formed a musical group that crossed the river to welcome and serenade the Maderistas in 1911.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Carlos Sánchez Montoya was born on September 11, 1918, in Gómez Palacio, Durango, México; his family moved to Guadalupe Victoria, Durango, which is where he grew up; later as a teenager, his family moved to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua; while living in Juárez, he began working in construction; he later worked as a bracero in New Mexico and Colorado from 1945 to 1963.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Sánchez recalls his childhood and early adolescence; he began helping his father work in the fields when he was fourteen years old; a severe draught at that time caused his family to move from Guadalupe Victoria, Durango, México, to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua; while there, he began working in construction; he explains how he learned of the bracero program and the hiring process he went through at the contracting center in Chihuahua, Chihuahua; from there, he was taken to Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas, where he was medically examined; he describes what the living conditions on the farms were like, the kinds of food they cooked, what their hobbies were, and what they did on weekends and during their spare time; his work duties included picking cotton and lettuce, irrigating cotton fields, and cleaning sugar beet fields in New Mexico and Colorado; he also explains the different wages he earned and how he was able to extend his contract without having to leave the country; in addition, he concludes that the bracero program is what enabled him to obtain legal residency in the United States and ultimately citizenship.

Description:

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Carlos Corella was born on October 2, 1933, in Clint, Texas, where he grew up; he graduated from high school and was drafted into the Army; he served from 1953 to 1955; after being discharged, he went to work for the United States Department of Labor, at Rio Vista, a processing center for braceros in Socorro, Texas.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Corella briefly recalls his time in the Army and the various places he traveled; upon being discharged in 1955, he went to work for the United States Department of Labor, at Rio Vista, a processing center for braceros in Socorro, Texas; while there, he was put in charge of escorting the braceros through immigration on both sides of the border; he remembers a particular form for the braceros called a 414, which they needed to have when going through immigration; it included their name, address, height, weight, and a brief physical description; the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Immigration, and U.S. Public Health were the three governmental agencies present at the reception center; he describes their first order of business, which was to disinfect or delouse the braceros, and he goes on to explain what each agency was responsible for; later, he became part of the on-site crew at the reception center; he worked for a total of three years at Rio Vista; to the best of his knowledge, the Bracero Program began sometime in 1949 or 1950 and one of the original reception centers was at the El Paso County Coliseum; it was not until two or three years later that the reception/processing center was moved to Rio Vista.