Bracero Program and "Operation Wetback"

Bracero Program, 1942-1964
-Wartime labor shortage in the U.S. led to bi-lateral agreements between U.S. and Mexico to legalize and control Mexican migrant laborers on short-term labor contracts
-Program began as a temporary war measure, but it became a fixture of agricultural work landscape until it was finally terminated in 1964.
-More than 4.6 million Mexican nationals were legally contracted for work in the United States (some individuals returned several times on different contracts)

Bi-lateral agreements set forth: Guaranteed minimum wage of 30 cents per hour; Humane treatment of workers; Housing, medical care, provisions

In reality, many laborers faced a range of injustices and abuses: Substandard housing; Discrimination; Unfulfilled contracts; Unpaid wages

Significance:
--Largest and most significant "Guest worker program"
--Braceros served as a foundation for contemporary Mexican immigration and Chicano communities
--Example of civil rights abuses, debate over immigration and race
--Serves as a model for contemporary discussions over labor and migration

"Operation Wetback," 1954
-Massive deportation campaigns began in 1950
-Aggressive targeting of persons of Mexican origin
-Mass deportations into the interior of Mexico
-From 1950 to 1953, apprehensions doubled from 470k to 840k
-South Texan farmers and ranchers resisted new aggressive tactics because it disrupted their supply of undocumented workers; it also challenged their position of authority in the borderlands (Hernandez, 159)

1954 Program
-Grew from already established deportation practices
-Massive, paramilitary law-enforcement campaign that involved raids in workplaces, restaurants, public places
-More than 1M deported during the year (Operation was officially a four week project)
-Many U.S.-born children of Mexican braceros were wrongly repatriated along with their parents

Opportunity or Exploitation: The Bracero Program, Smithsonian Institution (text and photographs)
Interview with Juan Loza, Bracero History Archive [make sure you have selected "Full View" in the upper right hand corner to get full English transcript of interview]
Excerpts from the Oral History of Juan Loza.docx

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This page contains a single entry by erikalee published on March 25, 2013 10:36 PM.

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