The Bracero Program
The Bracero Program was a temporary contract labor program initiated in 1942 by the United States and Mexico. Designed originally to bring a experienced Mexican agricultural laborers to harvest sugar beets in Stockton, California, but soon spread to most of the United States and to the railroad industry. Although the railroad program ended in 1945, after World War II the agricultural program continued until 1964. Originally, the program was designed to protect the illegal migrant workers against the exploitation by American farmers. However, it was criticized and was viewed as a failure from the humanitarian point of view. Workers in the Bracero Program continued to face struggles with the United States and Mexican governments. Many workers did not receive the mandatory savings accounts that were legally guaranteed to them upon conclusion of their contracts to work in the United States. In many states, specifically Texas, the local governments and authorities also took advantage of the workers. “Graft and corruption on both sides of the border enriched many Mexican officials as well as unethical “coyote” freelancers in the United States who promised contracts in Texas for the unsuspecting Bracero.” reported by The Handbook of Texas Online (Handbook of Texas Online, s.v., 2001.) Because of the abuse of authoritative power, such as perfunctory arrest for petty causes, and obvious discrimination, Mexico excluded Texas was excluded from the labor-exchange program.
Wages paid to legal contracted braceros were low. As well, these workers often encountered poor substandard living conditions. Many braceros left contracted work to return to home or to find better paying jobs. These braceros became known as “wetbacks. Farmers and ranchers became dependent on a low-cost, docile, illegal labor force. The search for jobs began to move the illegal immigrants farther north into Texas and California. However, there were still many braceros that...
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