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.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Jesus Campos Ortiz by Violeta Mena, 2006, "Interview no. 1147," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.