Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Jose V. Perez was born April 20, 1921, in Durango, México; his mother’s name was Juana Vásquez, and his father’s name was Rito Pérez; they were both laborers; José went to school for roughly two years; by the time he was fifteen years old, he was married, but the marriage did not last; he later moved to Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, where he met his second wife; during the mid-1940s, he worked in the United States without proper documentation; in 1956, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he completed a total of four contracts in New Mexico and Texas picking cotton; in 1962, he was able to obtain legal status in the United States with help of his employer; the following year, he did the same for his wife; together, they had a total of eleven children, six boys and five girls.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Perez talks about his family and what his life was like growing up; moreover, he offers several anecdotes about his life in México; during the mid-1940s, he worked in the United States without proper documentation before learning about the bracero program; in 1956, he decided to enlist in the program; he describes the centers he went though in Monterrey, Nuevo León and Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, where he paid five hundred pesos to go through the process more quickly; from the center he was transported by cargo train to the border in El Paso, Texas; he was also stripped, medically examined and deloused; as a bracero, he completed a total of four contracts in New Mexico and Texas picking cotton; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, accommodations, amenities, provisions, duties, routines and treatment; some men weighed the bags down with dirt and rocks so they could earn more money; they earned $2.10 per one hundred pounds of cotton; while working as a bracero, he learned how to cook and make flour tortillas; on some occasions, he went out to restaurants to eat; in 1962, he was able to obtain legal status in the United States with the help of his employer; the following year, he did the same for his wife; together, they had a total of eleven children, six boys and five girls, four of whom were born in the United States.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Jose V. Perez by Grisel Murillo, 2006, "Interview no. 1238," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.