Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Vicente Campos Cruz was born February 15, 1924, on the Isla de Janitzio, Michoacán, México; he was the eldest of his three brothers, and his parents were fishermen; Vicente was formally educated through the sixth grade; in 1952, he came to the United States without documentation and worked in Los Angeles, California for a brief time; later, in 1960, he was able to enlist in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona, California, Michigan and Texas, picking cabbage, cherries, cotton, cucumbers and lettuce.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Campos vividly describes his childhood and spending most of his time fishing with his family; in 1952, he came to the United States without documentation and worked in Los Angeles, California for roughly six months; he was eventually stopped by immigration officials and sent back to México; some time after, he married, and he and his wife began having children; in 1960, he decided to enlist in the bracero program in order to better provide for his family; he describes the process of providing the list of available workers to government officials and going to the contracting center; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona, California, Michigan and Texas, picking cabbage, cherries, cotton, cucumbers and lettuce; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, duties, working relationships, provisions, deductions, remittances and correspondence; in addition, he explains that while on his second contract picking lettuce in Arizona, he could not endure working such long hours hunched over; in contrast, picking cotton in Michigan did not provide enough work, because it rained too much; consequently, after approximately four months, he received a change of work location; he also mentions working with a number of Filipinos in Arizona; they all got along well, but lived in separate places; after his last contract in 1964, he was too tired to return to the United States again; with the money he saved from the program, he was able to buy a home.
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Interview with Vicente Campos Cruz by Mireya Loza, 2008, "Interview no. 1430," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.