Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Leonardo Chavira Carrillo was born in Zacoalco de Torres, Jalisco, México, on December 19, 1929; his dad worked in the fields and as a mason; he had three brothers and two sisters; when he was about thirteen years old, he began helping his father work the land; consequently, he was formally educated only through the third grade; in 1948, he came to the United States as an undocumented worker, but he was later able to work for the same employer through the bracero program, and yet again later when he permanently immigrated; as a bracero he worked in the fields, and he also completed various odd jobs.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Chavira briefly mentions his family; in 1948, he came to the United States as an undocumented worker, but he was later able to work for the same employer through the bracero program, and yet again later when he permanently immigrated; he initially paid a coyote to help him go through the process at the contracting center in Irapuato, Guanajuato; in addition, he later went to centers in Empalme, Sonora, and Mexicali, Baja California; he also describes the physical examinations he underwent while at these centers and transportation from there to the border; while in the program he worked in the fields of California picking various products including fruits, nuts, and vegetables, watering crops, driving tractors, laboring as a mechanic, and he also completed various odd jobs; he goes on to detail the various worksites, duties, housing, provisions, payment, and remittances; as a bracero, he stayed with the same employer for some time, and they developed a good relationship; during this time his wife and family moved to Mexicali, Baja California, México, and he was able to go home and see them on weekends; he also mentions that undocumented workers were employed alongside braceros; immigration officials would often go to the worksites to check for proper documentation; he describes some of the things the men would do to avoid getting caught; he concludes by stating that he has good memories of the program, and it helped him earn money to help his family.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Listen to the Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Leonardo Chavira Carrillo by Verónica Córtez, 2006, "Interview no. 1215," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.