Ana Elizabeth Rosas
Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Jose Luis Gazca was born on October 22, 1935, in Romita, Guanajuato, México; his parents worked in agriculture; as the eldest son among his six siblings, he went to school for only a brief time, because he had to help support his family; in 1955, he enlisted in the bracero program; he continued working on and off with the program until it ended in 1964; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California and Texas, picking apples, cotton, cucumber, green beans, lettuce, plums, and tomatoes; he later returned to the United States as an undocumented worker, but he was ultimately able to obtain legal status.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Gazca describes his family, childhood, and adolescence; in 1955, he decided to enlist in the bracero program; to begin the contracting process, he went to Irapuato, Guanajuato, México, where he spent a day, then he travelled to Empalme, Sonora, where he spent roughly three days, before heading to Mexicali, Baja California, and finally to Calexico, California; moreover, he details the different centers he went through as well as the range of procedures he underwent; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California and Texas, picking apples, cotton, cucumber, green beans, lettuce, plums, and tomatoes; in addition, he explains the various worksites, duties, housing, amenities, provisions, treatment, payment, remittances, and recreational activities; more specifically, he mentions being so close to the border, at times, that he could cross over on a bus whenever he had time off; he also talks about a foreman, in Chula Vista, California, that gave him extra work, so he could earn more money to send to his family; while he was in Texas, however, he was always pushed to work harder, which was difficult to do when there was so little to pick and, consequently, even less to earn; he continued working on and off with the program until it ended in 1964; during the late sixties, he returned to the United States as an undocumented worker, but he was ultimately able to obtain legal status with the help of an employer; he concludes by giving his opinion on current immigration issues and how difficult it would be to reinstate braceros.
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Interview with Jose Luis Gazca by Ana Elizabeth Rosas, 2006, "Interview no. 1170," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.