Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
José García Díaz was born on November 29, 1929, in Jamay, Jalisco, México; as a young boy, his family moved to Michoacán; he went on to finish his primary education in México, Distrito Federal; in 1954, he enlisted in the bracero program; his primary job was picking dates and caring for palm trees, in Coachella and Indio, California; he continued working as a bracero on and off until 1964, when the program ended; in 1970, he returned to the United States, and he was ultimately able to become a citizen.
Summary of Interview
Mr. García briefly mentions his family and childhood; he talks about how difficult it was to find work in México and how oftentimes it was not enough to support a family; in 1954, he traveled to Mexicali, Baja California, and enlisted in the bracero program; while there, he had to present his military ID card and pass the physical exams; upon arriving in the United States, he was examined again and fumigated; as a bracero his primary job was picking dates and caring for palm trees, in Coachella and Indio, California; he goes on to describe the various worksites, duties, provisions, treatment, payment, deductions, remittances, and recreational activities; his first year as a bracero there was an immigration raid, and numerous people were deported; sometimes he worked up to three months without a day off; furthermore, he explains how he worked with groups of twenty-five men, and they carried forty-eight foot aluminum ladders in order to pick the dates; while working he fell about thirty-five feet from a tree; although his hospital bills were paid for, he never received compensation for his injuries or lost wages; he continued working until 1959, before returning to México; in 1961, he went through Empalme, Sonora, and he stayed in the United States until the program ended in 1964; in general, he experienced a lot of discrimination and abuse, but he felt it was something he had to endure, because he was a foreigner; overall, his memories of the program are positive, because it ultimately helped him become a citizen.
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Interview with José García Díaz by Annette Shreibati, 2006, "Interview no. 1218," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.