Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Alfonso Ceja was born on September 23, 1934, in Villamar, Michoacán, México; his parents worked in agriculture, and he had six brothers and one sister; he helped his parents work the land; consequently, he received very little formal education; in 1954, he enlisted in the bracero program, where he continued working for the next ten years; as a bracero he worked mainly in California, where his primary job was to prune and prepare crops such as celery, lettuce, peaches, strawberries, and tomatoes; he later returned to the United States as an undocumented worker, but he was eventually able to obtain legal residency.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Ceja briefly mentions his family; in 1954, he traveled to Mexicali, Baja California, México to enlist in the bracero program; in addition, he went through contracting centers in Hermosillo and Empalme, Sonora, and Irapuato, Guanajuato, but he was not always able to get a contract; he also describes the transportation from the centers to border towns and how he was treated badly upon being physically examined and deloused; oftentimes the men would faint when blood samples were collected, because they were so weak and malnourished; as a bracero he worked mainly in California, where his primary job was to prune and prepare crops such as celery, lettuce, peaches, strawberries, and tomatoes; his duties required him to remain hunched over using a short hoe for hours at a time, which he describes as discriminatory; he worked extremely hard for relatively little money; moreover, he details how much he was paid for different crops, the difference between hourly and contract work, and the deductions taken from his paycheck; he goes on to talk about the various places he worked, duties, contract lengths and amendments, housing, amenities, provisions, remittances, and recreational activities; furthermore, he comments that ignorance often led the braceros to work much harder than necessary in an effort to compete with each other; he later returned to the United States as an undocumented worker, but he was eventually able to obtain legal residency.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Alfonso Ceja by Adriana Sandoval, 2006, "Interview no. 1214," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.