Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Esteban Gutierrez was born in 1935, in Cuquío, Jalisco, México; he had four brothers, and they all worked together in the fields; during the mid-1950s, he came to the work in the United States without proper documentation, but he was able to obtain a bracero contract shortly after; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, planting, cleaning, pruning, watering and picking various crops; he later married in 1966, and he was eventually able to legally immigrate to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Gutierrez talks about coming to work in the United States without proper documentation during the mid-1950s; he was caught by immigration officials and taken to Mexicali, Baja California, México; the next day, he returned to the United States with a specialized bracero contract; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, planting, cleaning, pruning, watering and picking various crops; he goes on to detail housing, amenities, accommodations, duties, treatment, payments, remittances and recreational activities, including trips into town; he gives a detailed explanation of his responsibilities as a palmero, which included caring for, cleaning and picking dates; braceros regularly requested changes in work location, because they did not like working as palmeros due to the huge risk involved in climbing the fifty foot ladders; as a result, anyone who would fulfill these duties was in high demand and therefore paid a larger salary; Esteban earned up to fifteen dollars a day; eventually, he saved enough to buy a car, and he often took other men to Mexicali on weekends; he also recounts several other anecdotes about his experiences as a bracero, including unknowingly meeting his future father-in-law while working in Brawley, California; Esteban later married in 1966, and he was ultimately able to legally immigrate to the United States; he concludes by stating that if he had it to do over again, he would.
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Interview with Esteban Gutierrez S. by Mario Sifuentes, 2006, "Interview no. 1225," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.