Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
José Astorga was born on July 31 of 1933 in Canelas, Durango, México, but he grew up in Topia, Durango; he was the eldest of eight siblings, and as such, began working in the fields sowing beans and corn in order to help his family; later, in 1955, he enrolled in the Bracero Program, and he continued working in the program until 1964; as a bracero, he worked in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Michigan, and Texas, picking apples, cotton, peaches, strawberries, and sugar beets.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Astorga briefly recalls his childhood and family; later, in 1955, he learned of the opportunity to work in the United States; he explains how he was able to obtain authorization to appear on the county’s list of eligible workers despite the fact that he was a minor; in order to begin the hiring process, he traveled to the contracting center in Hermosillo, Sonora, México; from there, he went through the reception center in El Centro, California, where he underwent medical examinations; as a bracero, he worked in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Michigan, and Texas, picking apples, cotton, peaches, strawberries, and sugar beets; he goes on to explain what daily life was like on the farms where he lived; in addition, he provides a detailed description of his different jobs and how they were respectively carried out, the wages he earned, and the methods of payment; he comments that he was treated well by his employers, and ultimately he is very proud to have been a bracero; because of his participation in the program, he was able to gain the experience and money necessary to begin and maintain his own business.
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Interview with José Ignacio Astorga Corral by Laureano Martínez, 2003, "Interview no. 994," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.