Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Arturo Álvarez was born on September 1, 1938, on a small ranch in León, Guanajuato, México; he had three brothers and five sisters, two of which passed away; he was formally schooled for roughly three or four years; while going to school, he also helped his father work the land; in 1963, he enlisted in the bracero program, which took him to work in the lettuce and tomato fields of California; he eventually immigrated to the United States, and he ultimately became a citizen.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Álvarez briefly discusses his family and childhood; he talks about growing up on a ranch and helping his father work the land; in 1963, a wealthy woman from a neighboring ranch gave him the necessary permits and papers to enlist in the bracero program; he went through the processing center in Empalme, Sonora, México; his first contract took him to Salinas, California, where he continued renewing his contract and remained there for one year and nine months; from there he went on to Stockton, California, where he stayed for a little over a year; he goes on to give a detailed explanation of what was required to maintain the lettuce and tomato crops, including planting, cleaning, cutting, packing, and loading; moreover, he describes his daily routine, housing, provisions, payment, deductions, remittances, and recreational activities; additionally, he talks about his contract renewals and how after a while he was just told to stay as long as he wanted to continue working; in general, he was treated well by his employers; he sent letters and money home to his father via money order; after the program ended he obtained a visa in order to come to the United States and visit his brother in Chicago, Illinois; he eventually decided to stay, and he brought his family with him; he was able to establish residency through one of his children that was born in the United States, and he ultimately became a citizen; his overall memories of the bracero program are positive, because he was able to help his father financially and save a little bit of money for himself as well.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Arturo Álvarez Padilla by Angélica Rivera, 2005, "Interview no. 1264," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.