The Bracero Program
War creates all kinds of hardships on everyone involved whether it is overseas on the front line or right in our own backyard. During World War II one hardship faced in the United States was the lack of laborers to work the land and other taxing jobs here in the United States. The solution, bring migrant workers from Mexico to complete the work; otherwise known as the Bracero Program. What is the American and Mexican history leading up to the Bracero program? Were these workers paid fair, were they treated fair, and did they benefit in the long term?
The United States has a long history of employing laborers from other countries. In 1850, Before Mexicans were prevalent; Chinese workers were hired in California to tend the land. After the Chinese Exclusion Act the Japanese workers were hired (Espinosa). Amid 1850 and 1890 the growth of Mexican immigrants began to increase and Mexican laborers were present in the agricultural industry, mining industry, and railroad (Espinsoa). The United States continued to utilize legal migrant workers for many years following and to this day there are laws allowing for legal migrant workers through the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act or MSPA (United States Department of Labor).
As mentioned previously war time creates hardships and sometimes those hardships are difficult to recover from. The outcome of the Mexican Revolution included millions of peasants being killed. Marentes describes peasants as hard-working, highly skilled agricultural labors. With the loss of so many peasants the harvest became scarce and many were lacking work. The Mexican government was unable to replenish resources and improve the way of life in Mexico causing peasants to look for other ways to meet the needs of their families (Marentes).
With United States needing assistance with agricultural labor and Mexicans needing work, the two came together and August 4, 1942 the Bracero Program was created. Under the Bracero Program Mexicans were contracted to United State farmers to tend the land (Espinosa). These Mexicans are known as Braceros. In order to be legal, Bracero’s had to obtain permits and enter the United States through recruitment centers where they had to be deemed physically capable of the hard labor work they were signing up for. One poplar recruitment center was Ciudad Juarez, across the border of El Paso, Texas (Espinosa). Barcero’s were under contracts with the employer Farm Security Administration of the Department of Agriculture of the United States of America. Farm Security Administration of the Department of Agriculture of the United States of America could enter into contracts with farm owners known as sub employers (Marentes). The contracts were to be written in Spanish but often times they were written in English and the Bracero’s would sign without comprehending what the contract mandated.
Many events were the cause for the termination of the...