Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Gregorio de la Cruz was born on July 7, 1938, in Santa Ana, Sonora, México; his parents were seasonal field workers, and he had four brothers and two sisters; they grew up on the ejido where their parents worked, and as a child, he often helped his parents; he was formally educated through the second grade; in 1954, the family moved to a place just outside of Empalme, Sonora, México.
Summary of Interview
Mr. de la Cruz briefly discusses his family and childhood; in 1954, the family moved to a place just outside of Empalme, Sonora, México, where he learned about the bracero program; he could not find work in México at the time, and he decided to enlist in the program; to begin the process, he went to Empalme to pick cotton and get a card and his name on the list of available workers; from there, he had to wait to be called, which could happen anywhere from ten days to one month; he describes waiting in line to be fumigated and the other medical procedures he underwent; his first contract took him to Holtville, California, where he worked in the beet fields for forty-five days; he then went to Palo Verde, Arizona, for three months, to pick onions and potatoes and load trucks, which was especially difficult; later, he returned to the beet fields, but this time in Burbank, California; he explains how he used the short hoe, and he stayed there for three months; in addition, he went to Suisun [City] Arizona, for a short time, and picked tomatoes; his last contract took him to Salinas, California, for one month, to pick strawberries; while there, he worked between ten and twelve hours a day; he would send money home to his parents and wife as often as he could; when he first started working in California, he earned 80¢ per day, but he had to pay $3.00 per day for food; in Arizona, he earned $1.25 per hour, and the work was easier; he goes on to describe his life after the bracero program ended; he eventually emigrated to the United States with his wife.
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Interview with Gregorio de la Cruz by Hugo Camacho, 2008, "Interview no. 1339," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.