Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Hector Ponce was born on April 1, 1933, in Valle de Zaragoza, Chihuahua, México; both of his parents worked in agriculture; he was formally educated through the fifth grade; sometime later, he traveled to Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, where he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he worked in the fields of Nebraska and North Dakota, and he dispensed coal for heaters in Michigan; independent of the program, he also worked for Chevrolet while in Michigan; he later legalized his residency, and he ultimately became a United States citizen.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Ponce very briefly discusses his family and childhood; as a bracero he picked beets in Nebraska, peppers in North Dakota, and dispensed coal for heaters in Michigan; overall, he had great working relationships with his employers; while in Michigan, he was employed by a group of brothers who treated him extremely well; they often invited him into their home, and they offered to help arrange for his residency in the hopes that he would stay to work there permanently; he also relates a story about how his employer in Nebraska was intent on finding him a girlfriend; he goes on to discuss wages, living and working conditions, provisions, language barriers, communication with his family, and community attitudes toward him and other workers; in addition, he describes his experience with immigration personnel; independent of the program, he also worked for Chevrolet while in Michigan; he concludes by commenting on his fondness for the United States and how working with the bracero program changed his life.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
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Interview with Hector Ponce by Karim Ley-Alarcón, 2005, "Interview no. 1091," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.