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The Bracero Program (1942-1964)

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by

Marlen Mendoza

on 25 April 2013

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Transcript of The Bracero Program (1942-1964)

"Soldiers of the Fields" By: Marlen Mendoza What Was the Bracero Program? In August of 1943 the U.S. and Mexico created the Bracero Program which was an agreement between both governments, permitting Mexican citizens to take temporary agriculture work in the United States
More than 4.5 million Mexican citizens were legally hired for work in the United States, primarily in California and Texas (later)
Two different programs - agricultural and railroad Recruitment Extremely crowded
Overwhelming number of applicants - hard to obtain permits to enter the program
Bribery system End of the Program Mechanical cotton harvester + illegals = braceros less attractive
Some go back to Mexico but return to the U.S. illegally later
Braceros still fighting for the money they are owed
Immigration pattern established between Mexico and U.S.
Issues helped continue the reform movement for agriculture Works Cited http://sunsite3.berkeley.edu/calheritage/latinos/braceros.html
http://www.jsri.msu.edu/museum/pubs/MexAmHist/chapter15.html
http://www.farmworkers.org/benglish.html
http://www.counterpunch.org/bracero.html
http://www.pacificnews.org/jinn/stories/5.16/990804-bracero.html
http://www.pbs.org/kpbs/theborder/history/timeline/17.html
http://www.fwjustice.org/component/content/article/86-other-guestworker-programs/188-how-guestworker-programs-work Historical Context In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, more than 500,000 Mexican Americans were deported or pressured to leave, during the Mexican Repatriation.
Many white American citizens experiencing the negative effects of the Great Depression blamed immigrants for their desperation and thought deporting them would solve their problems.
Fewer Mexican Americans were available to work when the labor demand returned with World War II. World War I and II
(1914-1918/1939-1945) Americans worked in factories or fought in the front lines of the war
U.S. farm workers left their jobs for higher income jobs
U.S. turns to Mexico for the farm labor
Braceros worked on farms and on railroads, making it possible for the U.S. economy to meet the challenges imposed by the war effort
The agreement was only meant for war time but remained in effect 19 years after Mexico’s Thoughts Believed the U.S. just wanted cheap labor
Afraid of discrimination towards their people
Worried that the program would dwindle their economy
Concerned about deportation
Mexican citizens needed the opportunity to work because the Mexican economy was in crisis
Mexican citizens where not being protected by their government, in terms of fair wages and protection of their simple human rights Important Provisions Mexican workers shall not suffer discriminatory acts of any kind.
Mexicans entering the U.S shall not be employed to displace other workers, or for purpose of reducing rates of pay previously established.
Work of minors under 14 years shall be strictly prohibited.
Guaranteed certain benefits and protections for Mexican workers, including free sanitary housing, medical treatment, bathing facilities, transportation, wages equal to those of American farm workers, and a contract written in Spanish. Cons Too many applicants (more illegals)
Close living (respiratory diseases)
Thousands of braceros were brought in to perform stoop labor, a task that causes back injuries resulting from the constant strain of bending over all day.
Health, food, wages, working hours disregarded
Racism
10 percent withheld wages not returned Racism and Discrimination In Texas alone, Mexicans were discriminated against to such an extent that the Mexican government forbade the use of its nationals in the fields.
American hostility (no bargaining power for American workers if on strike)
Some restaurants wouldn’t serve them
Certain theaters required that they sit upstairs with the African Americans Relativity The concept was good but the execution was flawed
Government wanted the taxes from the Bracero Program
Employers preferred cheaper, illegal labor
As abusive as the Bracero program was, new proposals would be far worse What is a bracero? “Generally speaking, the Latin-American migratory worker going into west Texas is regarded as a necessary evil, nothing more nor less than an unavoidable adjunct to the harvest season. Judging by the treatment that has been accorded him in that section of the state, one might assume that he is not a human being at all, but a species of farm implement that comes mysteriously and spontaneously into being coincident with the maturing of cotton, that requires no upkeep or special consideration during the period of its usefulness, needs no protection from the elements, and when the crop has been harvested, vanishes into the limbo of forgotten things-until the next harvest season rolls around. He has no past, no future, only a brief and anonymous present.”

From Latin Americans in Texas, by Pauline R. Kibbe, The University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1948. Pros Insufficient harvest in Mexico, limited employment available
Easier for growers to house single men rather than families
Provided a legal venue for seasonal work
Supposed to stimulate the Mexican economy
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