Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Jesus Campos Ortiz was born in 1943, in Aquila, Michoacán, México; he was the fifth born of his six brothers and four sisters; by the time he was eight years old, he was working to help support his younger siblings; consequently, he was never formally educated; he became a bracero in the early sixties, when he was roughly seventeen years old, using false papers; one of his uncles and a few of his cousins were also braceros; by the mideighties he and his family had all legally immigrated to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Campos describes his hometown, family, and childhood; in the early sixties, when he was roughly seventeen years old, he enlisted in the bracero program using false papers that his father had acquired for him; he explains various aspects of the contracting process in México, including organization by municipalities, necessary paperwork, exams, and travel methods; moreover, he notes that his uncle was injured as a result of the medical assessments he underwent; Jesús goes on to detail worksites, duties, hours, housing, provisions, treatment, payments, remittances, recreational activities, and working relationships; in addition, he describes being in the United States for the first time and becoming so ill that he had to be taken to the hospital; he thinks it was due in large part to the pressure of being away from home; while working in Woodland, California, he and others were paid 13¢ per box of tomatoes, which caused some to organize a strike for higher pay; although he was not involved, he was still treated poorly and faced other difficulties in light of the situation; he also mentions an instance where he and a friend were loading a truck, his friend fainted and was taken to a hospital by ambulance; while discussing employers he notes that many ranchers preferred undocumented workers, because they did not require the same pay or benefits as braceros; by the mideighties he, his wife, and all seven children had legally immigrated to the United States.
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Interview with Jesus Campos Ortiz by Violeta Mena, 2006, "Interview no. 1147," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.