Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Juan Rosanes was born September 15, 1935, on a small ranch in Vista Hermosa, Michoacán, México; he had nine brothers and two sisters; although he was never formally educated, he did learn how to read; as a young boy, he helped care for goats; when he was seventeen years old, he came to the United States without documents and worked picking cotton in Texas; he eventually enlisted in the bracero program, and he labored in the fields of California and Michigan, picking cucumbers, grapes, lemons, oranges and tomatoes; later, he was able to obtain legal status in the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Rosanes briefly talks about his family and what his life was like growing up; for a brief time, he worked in the United States without proper documentation; later, he picked cotton in Sonora, México, to obtain the necessary papers to enlist in Empalme, Sonora, México, where he was medically examined; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California and Michigan, picking cucumbers, grapes, lemons, oranges and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the worksites, camp sizes, housing, accommodations, amenities, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, friendships, payments and recreational activities, including trips into town; on occasion, Mexican officials visited the camps to ensure adequate treatment; immigration officials also went to the camps regularly, and men without documents often worked alongside the braceros; while in Tracy, California, the men went fishing at a nearby river on their days off; in addition, he explains that he spent the most time working in Ontario, California; his employer arranged to help him obtain legal status, and his visa came through while he was working in Michigan, but he did not claim it; later, through amnesty, he was able to obtain legal status in the United States; overall, he has positive memories of the program, because he was able to have a better life.
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Interview with Juan Rosanes by Annette Shreibati, 2006, "Interview no. 1242," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.