Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Isaias Sanchez was born July 6, 1934, in San Pedro Apóstol, [Oaxaca] México; he had six siblings; when he was seven years old, he began helping his father work in the fields; there was never enough money for him to go to school, but he did learn to read and write as an adult; in 1955, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arkansas, California and Texas picking various crops; he married in 1956 and had one daughter, but his wife died in 1961; he continued with the program until 1964; later, he immigrated to the United States, and he eventually remarried and became a citizen.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Sanchez talks about his family and what his life was like growing up; when he was fifteen years old, he wanted to join the bracero program, but he had to wait until he completed his military service; he describes the difficulties he faced trying to enlist and the centers he went through in Irapuato, Guanajuato, Monterrey, Nuevo León and Empalme, Sonora, México; as part of the contracting process, he was stripped, medically examined and deloused; although re-contracting at these centers was initially difficult, over time he got to know people who helped him and was later able to buy the necessary documents to go through the process more quickly; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arkansas, California and Texas picking various crops until 1964; he goes on to detail housing, accommodations, amenities, provisions, routines, treatment, payments, deductions, remittances, correspondence, friendships and recreational activities, including trips into town; in addition, he explains that he came from an indigenous community, and he often helped other indigenous people who were also braceros; he also recounts several other interesting anecdotes about his experiences working with the program; during his time as a bracero, he married and had one daughter, but his wife died in 1961; later, he immigrated to the United States, and he eventually remarried and became a citizen; he asserts that being a bracero helped him achieve his dream of staying in the United States and providing his children with a better life.
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Interview with Isaias Sanchez by Alma Carrillo, 2006, "Interview no. 1246," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.