Homero S. Vera
Bracero Oral History Project
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Reynaldo Chapa was born on July 17, 1932, in Edinburg, Texas, but he was raised in Mission, Texas; in 1951, he graduated from high school; after graduating, he enlisted in the service, and he finished his tour of duty in 1955; after leaving the service, he began going to school at the University of Texas-Pan American; that summer he started working at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas; he continued working summers there until 1957; a year later, in 1958, he graduated from the university.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Chapa remembers getting out of the service in 1955; shortly thereafter, he began going to school at the University of Texas-Pan American; that summer he started working at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas; he worked in the selection area, which is where the braceros were sent after their medical exams when they were ready to be processed; in addition, he worked with the men that were not chosen, often due to illness, and were sent back to Mexico; his brother also worked with him at the center as a foreign labor escort; as an escort, he would cross the border along with three or four other men to pick up potential braceros in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and bring them to the center in Hidalgo; upon arriving at the center, the men were searched for drugs and weapons, fingerprinted, and medically examined, which included x-rays and delousing; the braceros were primarily hired to pick cotton in the area, but sometimes they were sent to work as far away as Arkansas or Michigan; in such an event, the farmers were responsible for transporting the braceros by bus; in addition, the farmers were expected to adhere to strict regulations with regard to their treatment of the braceros; there were about 4,000 braceros processed in a day at the center, and when things slowed down, they processed about 2,000 braceros per day
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Reynaldo H. Chapa by Homero S. Vera, 2003, "Interview no. 1546," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.