Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Alejo López was born July 17, 1933, on a ranch in Calvillo, Aguascalientes, México; he was the fourth born of his ten siblings; his formal education extended through the third grade; as a young boy, he worked in the fields; when he was thirteen years old, his mother died; a year later his father remarried; one of his older brothers enlisted in the bracero program, and in 1954, Alejo also joined; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, cleaning, pruning and picking asparagus, lettuce, strawberries and tomatoes; during the 1980s, he immigrated to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. López briefly talks about his family; one of his older brothers enlisted in the bracero program, and in 1954, Alejo also joined; to begin the contracting process, he went through the center in Mexicali, Baja California, México, where he was stripped and examined; moreover, he offers a detailed description of the exams he endured; he later went through the center in Empalme, Sonora, México; from there he was transported by train to Mexicali, where he was deloused like an animal; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, cleaning, pruning and picking asparagus, lettuce, strawberries and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the various worksites, housing, accommodations, amenities, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, payment, deductions, remittances, contract lengths and renewals and trips into town; one of his foremen was a Filipino who often praised him for his excellent work; some Japanese men also worked with the braceros in the fields; they did not speak to each other due to the language barrier; on some occasions, immigration officials checked documents at the camps, and those without papers would run and hide; while working in the Imperial Valley, his brother would pick him, another brother and a cousin up and take them to visit in Mexicali; it was always easier for Alejo when he had family with him, because he was not as lonely; he also talks about his life after the program; later, during the 1980s, he immigrated to the United States; overall, he has positive memories of his experiences as a bracero.
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Interview with Alejo López by Verónica Cortez, 2006, "Interview no. 1082," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.