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Transcript of Bracero Program
The Bracero Program
Began in 1942 and ended in 1964.
The Bracero Program developed out of a series of bi-lateral agreements between Mexico and the United States that allowed millions of Mexican men to come to the United States to work short-term, primarily agricultural labor contracts.
4.6 millions contracts were signed.
Workers were guaranteed minimum wage, transportation, housing, and health benefits.
(Rosenblum, 2011) (Bracero History Archieve, 2013)
Bracero workers in the fields
Bracero picking cotton
•Eisenhower administration eliminated consular oversight and imposed more grower-friendly contracts. Deported almost 2 million unauthorized Mexicans in the so-called :Operations Wetback” campaign.
• In 1951, after nearly a decade in existence, concerns about production and the U.S. entry into the Korean conflict led Congress to formalize the Bracero Program with Public Law 78 (Rosenblum, 2011)
On August 4, 1942 the United States concluded a temporary intergovernmental agreement for the use of Mexican agricultural labor on United States farms (Rosenblum, 2011)
How it came to be...
• Created by executive order in 1942 because many farmers argued that World War II would bring labor shortages to low-paying agricultural jobs.
(Rosenblum, 2011) (Bracero History Archieve, 2013)
• It was an extension to the Bracero Program (an act to amend the agricultural act of 1949)
• The purpose was to include agricultural workers within the act.
• Increase the amount of labor help during World War II.
• The Secretary of Labor had the authority in determining whether there were enough domestic workers in certain areas.
The Republican ideology has been traditionally positioned against immigrations into the United States (regardless of whether such activity is conducted legally or illegally).
In the 1920s, sympathizers of the Republican Party called for restrictions on the migrations for Mexican and Asian people into the United States.
The party sponsored the Immigration Act of 1924 (Wright, 2008).
It was aimed at curtailing European immigration into the country, as well as some Mexican movements.
Early 1930s, Hoover and the Republican Party developed a repatriation campaign for Mexicans who lived in the United States, regardless of their citizenship (Shanks, 2001).
Republicans were naturally positioned against the Bracero program, due to various fears.
Supported it to some extent, when the realization of extensive shortages dawned on them.
Democrats supported the Bracero program devoid of reservations (Shanks, 2001).
• Initiated during the Democrat administration of Roosevelt.
• The working class and ethnic minorities of the American society have traditionally supported the Democratic Party. Similarly, it has advocated the economic and social advancement of these groups.
• The Democrats of the day supported measures that would ensure the survival of the American agricultural sector, through importation of labor.
• The urbanized middle class of Mexican Americans had traditionally supported the Democratic Party during the 1920s.
• These people formed the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).
• LULAC and the Democratic Party developed general policies towards the welfare of Latin Americans in the United States.
Impact on Immigrants: Negatives
• Agreement between Mexican and American governments to protect Mexican workers and provide benefits such as free sanitary housing, bathrooms, medical treatment, transportation and wages equal to domestic farm workers was violated.
Living and labor conditions did not comply with Bracero Law standards once contractors learned immigrants need and desire to work in the U.S.
Barracks and tents were commonly used to house Braceros (Alvarado, 2001). Other contractors poorly transformed barns, stables, storerooms and garages into housing for Braceros (Alvarado, 2001).
– A Bracero in Northern California whose weekly gross pay was $25 for instance, took home less than a dollar after they were charged for room and board (Alvarado, 2001). This included deductions from Bracero’s paychecks for transporting them around town (Alvarado, 2001). Another violation of the Bracero contract.
• 10% of wages withheld and placed in Rural Savings Fund controlled by the Mexican government was never paid out to braceros. The distribution of funds remains unknown (Alvarado, 2001).
• Experienced racism similar to that of African Americans.
• Braceros working in Texas particularly experienced racial discrimination (Zatz, 1993).
Wetback is a derogatory term used for Mexican individuals who cross the border illegally.
Military order was given in 1954 after an influx of undocumented Mexican workers crossed the Rio Grande Valley to the U.S. (Koestler, 2012).
Both the American society and the migrant workers accrued benefits of the Bracero Act.
• The Mexican Revolution of the 1910 left peasants without resources that were needed in improving their lives. The 1930’s were a difficult period for the peasants in Mexico. Their crops dried up, resulting in inadequate yields. Similarly, employment opportunities were difficult to come by, due to the Great depression (Wright, 2008).
• The Bracero program provided the peasants with an opportunity for improving their socio-economic levels in the Mexican society. Wages in the United States were higher than Mexico, even in the agricultural sector. As a result, the migrant workers acquired higher incomes by working on the American farms.
• The remittances also improved the Mexican economy. The peasant farmers back at home were able to access goods that were previously out of their reach, hence developing Mexican industries (Chiquiar and Hanson, 2002).
Impact on Immigrants: Positives
Present Immigration Labor Issues
• E –Verify enforced in 2006: verification system of eligibility to work in U.S. (Rosenblum and Brick, 2011).
• Demand for immigrant labor still exists: unskilled, low-paying jobs unfulfilled by U.S. workers (Pellegrino, 2013).
• Escape permanent poverty in own country.
The U.S. minimum wage is six to seven times higher than Mexican minimum wage (Pellegino, 2013).
• The end to the Bracero Program resulted in a passage of major reforms to the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
Results from the Bracero Program
• Throughout history we have been able to see how discrimination towards Mexican immigrants compares to slavery of African Americans and the Japanese American Internment Camps.
Housing and Camps
Concentration Camps in Germany
o Similar issue happening now with farmers because they are being deported so there are not that many farm workers to do the work.
o Mexican immigrants are willing to do the undesirable labor that Native born Americans are prideful to undertake.
Without anyone to do the work, America’s agriculture would not be the productive field it is today.
• The program improved socio-economic status improved the standing of Mexicans in the United States.
• The Bracero program also improved social cohesion between Americans and immigrants from Mexico. It provided a platform for interactions between the two societies, hence fostering understanding between them.
• The bracero program played a major role in establishing a foundation for immigration laws from 1965 to the present.
Alvarado, L. A. (2001). Lesson from My Grandfather, the Bracero, A. Chicano-Latino L. Rev., 22, 55.
Chiquiar, D. and Hanson, G. (2002). International migration, self-selection, and the distribution of wages: Evidence from Mexico and the United States.
Koestler, F. L. “OPERATION WETBACK,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/pqo01), accessed March 23, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Kibbe, P. R. (1946). Latin Americans in Texas. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. http://farmworkers.org/bracintx.html.
Rosenblum, M. R., & Brick, K. (2011). US immigration policy and Mexican/Central American
migration flows: Then and now. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute and Woodrow
Pellegrino, P. (2013). Undocumented Students: Understanding the Socio-Economic Struggles
Encountered in the United States.
Shanks, C. (2001). Immigration and the politics of American sovereignty, 1890-1990. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Wilson International Center for Scholars, August. http://www. migrationpolicy. org/pubs/RMSG-regionalflows. pdf.
Wright, R. (2008). Chronology of immigration in the United States. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co.
Zatz, M.S. (1993). Using and Abusing Mexican Farmworkers: The Bracero Program and the INS Law & Society Review, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 851-864. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3053955
6 immigration laws were passed from 2002 -2006 these are:
Homeland Security Act of 2002
The Enhanced Border Security
Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002
Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004
The Real ID Act of 2005
Secure Fence Act of 2006
(Rosenblum & Brick, 2001).