Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Miguel Arroyo Castillo was born on August 15, 1916, in Tarimoro, Guanajuato, México; he has four sisters and two brothers; as a boy, he learned how to work the land; during the early1920s, his father would come to the United States to work, but he died when Miguel was roughly eight years old; shortly thereafter, his family moved to México, Distrito Federal; in 1943, he obtained his first bracero contract, and he continued working with the program until 1947, laboring in the fields and on the railroad tracks.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Arroyo speaks at length about his family, childhood, and adolescence; after his father died, his family moved to México Distrito Federal, with an older sister; while there, he began working as a baker, and he later continued to do so between bracero contract; in 1943, he learned about the bracero program as he was passing by a stadium where contracting was taking place; he decided to enlist in the program, rather than make his debut as a boxer, because he wanted to know what life was like in the United States; after passing physical examinations, he was transported by train to California; he explains that at the time, many people thought they were going to fight in the war; as a bracero, he worked on the railroads in California, and in the fields of Idaho and Wisconsin; oftentimes, government officials would visit the camps to check up on the braceros and ensure that they were treated well; he goes on to chronicle how he traveled to different worksites, the various campsites, daily routines, duties, housing, provisions, treatment, payments, deductions, remittances, and recreational activities; in addition, he states that as a railroad worker in California, he was given a Social Security number and deductions were accordingly taken from his salary; moreover, while working there he became dehydrated and was allowed to go home to recuperate before returning to California; he also recalls that during his free time in Idaho, he and other braceros paid 35¢ to watch Mexican movies.
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Interview with Miguel Arroyo Castillo by Violeta Domínguez, 2002, "Interview no. 1026," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.