Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
José Ortiz was born on March 25, 1934, in Doctor Arroyo, Nuevo León, México; his parents were farmers, and he had six brothers and three sisters; when he was eight years old, he went to school for roughly six months before leaving to help his family with the farming duties; in 1954, he decided to enroll in the Bracero Program; as a bracero, he worked picking crops in Arkansas and Texas.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Ortiz describes his childhood and adolescence; he initially learned about the Bracero Program through radio advertisements, and in 1954, he decided to enlist; in order to begin the hiring process, he and his brother traveled to the contracting center in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; he goes on to describe what he went through at the center, including the huge crowds, waiting time, medical exams, provisions, and transportation services; upon crossing the border in Eagle Pass, Texas, he underwent a second set of medical exams, which consisted of blood samples and a delousing process; as a bracero, he worked in Arkansas and Texas, where he primarily picked crops; he explains what life was like in the work camps, while detailing how the workers would go about preparing their food; in addition, he discusses how he would send money home to his family and how he would go shopping to buy them gifts during his spare time; he also mentions that although he had several opportunities to arrange for legal residency in the United States, he preferred to stay in his hometown of Doctor Arroyo, Nuevo León, México.
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Interview with Jose Isabel Ortiz Hinojosa by Violeta Domínguez, 2003, "Interview no. 1061," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.