Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
José Ortiz was born on March 25, 1934, in Doctor Arroyo, Nuevo León, México; his parents were farmers, and he had six brothers and three sisters; when he was eight years old, he went to school for roughly six months before leaving to help his family with the farming duties; in 1954, he decided to enroll in the Bracero Program; as a bracero, he worked picking crops in Arkansas and Texas.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Ortiz describes his childhood and adolescence; he initially learned about the Bracero Program through radio advertisements, and in 1954, he decided to enlist; in order to begin the hiring process, he and his brother traveled to the contracting center in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; he goes on to describe what he went through at the center, including the huge crowds, waiting time, medical exams, provisions, and transportation services; upon crossing the border in Eagle Pass, Texas, he underwent a second set of medical exams, which consisted of blood samples and a delousing process; as a bracero, he worked in Arkansas and Texas, where he primarily picked crops; he explains what life was like in the work camps, while detailing how the workers would go about preparing their food; in addition, he discusses how he would send money home to his family and how he would go shopping to buy them gifts during his spare time; he also mentions that although he had several opportunities to arrange for legal residency in the United States, he preferred to stay in his hometown of Doctor Arroyo, Nuevo León, México.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Jose Isabel Ortiz Hinojosa by Violeta Domínguez, 2003, "Interview no. 1061," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.