Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Arturo Berumen was born in 1962, in Zacatecas, México; he was the third born of his twelve siblings; his father, who was also named Arturo, was born in 1933; during the early 1950s, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California picking and packing tomatoes; in 1957, he married, and soon after, he began raising his family; years later, Arturo Jr. also married and had two children; he and his family eventually immigrated to the United States, and he became a citizen; he later helped his parents immigrate as well.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Berumen talks about his father becoming a bracero, in the early 1950s; because he was very young, he changed the dates on his papers so he could complete his military service early and get a contract sooner; just as he finished his service, he learned a bus was already leaving for Guanajuato, México; he gathered his things and left without even saying good-bye to his mother; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California picking and packing tomatoes; he also made friends that he traveled with to and from México; one of his employers helped him send money home with a personal check, but it was not accepted in México, and they were not able to recover the lost money; when he worked loading trucks, he was treated better and given special privileges; with the money he did manage to save, he was able to build a home for his family in México, which they still own; years later, Arturo Jr. also married and had two children; he and his family eventually immigrated to the United States, and he became a citizen; he later helped his parents immigrate as well; in addition, he mentions having some of his father’s pay stubs, which he intends to use in order to fight for bracero compensation; according to a 1952 check, he was paid $35.00 for working between seventy and eighty hours in one week.
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Interview with Arturo Berumen by Grisel Murillo, 2006, "Interview no. 1078," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.