Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Efrén Pacheco A. was born April 19, 1936, in Ascensión, Chihuahua, México; as a boy, he worked in the fields as did his parents and siblings; in 1956, when he was twenty-one, he decided to enlist in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of New Mexico and Texas cleaning, pruning and picking cotton until 1960; he later worked in the United States without proper documentation; during the 1980s, he was able to obtain legal status for himself and his family with the help of his employer.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Pacheco briefly talks about his family; in 1956, when he was twenty-one, he decided to enlist in the bracero program; he went through the contracting center in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, where he waited for roughly ten days; he paid to sleep in a hotel during that time; those who did not have money slept outside; the men were loaded into trains without seats and transported to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México; they were forced to stand, and they did not stop for restroom breaks throughout the duration of the trip; once they arrived at the border, they had to stand in lines and could not move, because they would lose their place; unless they brought food with them or had money, they did not eat; the men were then stripped to their undergarments and deloused with pesticides used for animals, which smelled horribly, before being medically examined; afterward, they used the public restrooms to bathe as best they could, often without towels to clean or dry themselves, before getting transferred to their worksites; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of New Mexico and Texas cleaning, pruning and picking cotton until 1960; he goes on to detail the various worksites, housing, accommodations, living conditions, provisions, duties, treatment, payments, remittances, contract lengths and renewals, discriminatory practices and recreational activities; moreover, he relates several interesting anecdotes about his experiences, including an unsuccessful strike; after the program ended, he worked in the United States without proper documentation, but he was later able to obtain legal status for himself and his family.
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Interview with Efrén Pacheco A. by Itzel Kuckle, 2008, "Interview no. 1365," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.