Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Heriberto Rivas was born on July 4, 1935, in Arivechi, Sonora, México; he is the eldest of his five sisters and three brothers; his parents were agricultural workers; although he liked school, he was formally educated only through the sixth grade; when he was sixteen, he came to the United States illegally, and he continued working there for a few years; later, in 1955, he obtained a bracero contract; by 1958, he was able to legally immigrate to the United States.
Summary of Interview
future for himself in helping his dad work the land nor did he see the opportunity to further his education; when he was sixteen, he came to the United States illegally; he was caught by immigration officials, and they told him about the bracero program; in 1955, he was able to obtain a bracero contract in Hermosillo, Sonora, México; he describes sneaking into the center, because there were more than twenty thousand men, and he knew he would not make it; he was then transported by train to Mexicali, Baja California, México, and then to Calexico, California; while there he was medically examined, which included being x-rayed and fumigated; initially, the work was very difficult, because he did not know what to do; after completing an eighteen month contract, he had to return to México, but his boss gave him a card that allowed him to quickly pass through the contracting center and return to the United States in three days; he explains that there were about five hundred braceros at the camp, and of those, sixty-five, including himself, were chosen to stay year-round; moreover, he details the living and working conditions, housing, provisions, duties, daily routines, payments, and deductions; in addition, he describes the entire process he underwent to obtain legal documentation; by 1958, he was able to immigrate to the United States.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Heriberto Rivas L. by Perla Guerrero, 2006, "Interview no. 1177," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.