Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Manuel Garcia grew up with seven brothers and three sisters; his father worked in the bracero program; later, in 1956, Manuel married, and he and his wife went on to have five boys and two girls; in 1959, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and enlist in the program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California and Texas, picking various crops; after his time with the program, he continued working in the United States without proper papers; during the late 1980s, he was able to secure legal documentation for himself and several of his family members.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Garcia briefly discusses his family and how he grew up very poor; working in México he earned one to two pesos a day, which was not enough; they suffered greatly, because there was not always enough for everyone to eat; even their animals started dying; he wanted to be a bracero, like his father, but he was too young at the time; in 1956, Manuel married, and he and his wife later went on to have five boys and two girls; when he was eighteen years old, in 1959, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the bracero program; he went to Obregón, Sonora, México, to pick two thousand kilograms of cotton in order to get the necessary papers to enlist; from there, he went to the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora and then Mexicali, Baja California, México, where he was stripped and fumigated; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California and Texas, picking various crops; he goes on to detail the different worksites, housing, provisions, duties, routines, payments, deductions and remittances; when he initially sent money home, he sent it to his father, who bought everything he needed before giving anything to Manuel’s wife; eventually, Manuel sent money directly to his wife; he also explains that he preferred working in California to Texas; moreover, he discusses working in the United States without proper documentation after his time with the program; during the late 1980s, he was able to secure legal status for himself and several of his family members.
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Interview with Manuel Garcia by Mario Sifuentes, 2006, "Interview no. 1219," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.