Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Tirso Yepes was born on January 28, 1929, in Ocampo, Guanajuato, México; he is the youngest of his three siblings; as a child he helped work the land and care for animals, which consequently left him without a formal education; when he was about sixteen years old, after his mother died, he came to the United States as an undocumented worker; in 1949, his brother died, and he returned to México; he later worked with the bracero program from 1959 to 1963; as a bracero he labored in the fields of California and Texas picking cotton, strawberries, and tomatoes; he also drove a tractor and irrigated crops; in 1964, he emigrated to the United States, and by 1973, the rest of his family was able to do the same.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Yepes briefly recounts his childhood and adolescence; from 1946 to 1948 he labored in the United States as an undocumented worker; he explains how people were often mistreated by immigration officials upon being deported, and they were intentionally sent to the wrong places; in 1959, he enlisted as a bracero, and he describes what he went through at the processing center in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; his initial contract was three months, but he renewed it, and ended up staying in Earth, Texas, for a year and a half before returning to México; he had a great relationship with his boss there, and they maintained contact during the following years; as a bracero he went on to work throughout California and Texas picking cotton, strawberries, and tomatoes, and he also drove a tractor and irrigated crops; in addition, he talks about the various worksites, duties, living conditions, provisions, payment, treatment, remittances, and recreational activities; moreover, he talks about how workers’ rights were often violated, but they had no one to turn to for help or support; he relates one incident in which he was verbally and physically mistreated and humiliated at a processing center in Calexico, California; in 1964 he legally emigrated to the United States with the help of his first employer from Earth, Texas; by 1973, the rest of his family was also able to do the same.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Tirso Yepes by Angélica Rivera, 2005, "Interview no. 1279," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.