Bracero Oral History Project
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Juanita Parra was born May 12, 1955, in Mercedes, Texas; her mother was a native Mexican who left her first husband, because he was abusive; in order to support her seven children, she picked crops in the United States during the bracero program; she later asked Juanita’s father to marry her, which is how Juanita later came to be born in Texas; the family migrated with the crops and braceros to several states, including Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.
Summary of Interview
Ms. Parra discusses her family and her mother in particular; while picking crops in the United States, she was often caught and sent back to Mexico, which was especially traumatic; she could hear the bullets flying by as she ran away; her children hid in holes she previously dug, and she would come back for them the following day; she insisted on working, because she was trying to save enough money to begin the process for legal residency for herself and seven children; her sister’s husband was a successful businessman in Mexico, and she asked his brother to marry her; she needed a husband to get her residency papers; the family migrated with the crops and braceros throughout several states; in 1955, Juanita was born at a camp in Texas; the family later settled in Glendale, Arizona; Juanita also talks about her aunt, her mother’s sister, and uncle being responsible for feeding braceros; in addition, Juanita recalls her parents taking her with them to pick in the fields; they often pulled her along as she sat on top of their sacks; when she was old enough she began picking crops as well; she remembers the braceros as very quiet and hard working men; they often worried about their families in Mexico, and some even drank to help them cope; the men lived in barracks or small homes, some of which were not up to par; she also recounts several other anecdotes about living and working with braceros; overall, Juanita sees both the negative and positive aspects of the program; some men were separated from their families for too long and started over in the United States, while others were able to legally immigrate with their families and have a better life in general.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
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Interview with Juanita Parra by Mireya Loza, 2008, "Interview No. 1594," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.