Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Enrique Arellano was born January 16, 1943, in Zacatecas, México; his parents were campesinos, and they grew beans and corn; he had twelve siblings; his father worked as a bracero a number of times; he later married, and his wife was from the same town; they went on to have two children, one boy and one girl; in 1964, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Salinas, California, cutting, picking and packing carrots, celery and lettuce; he eventually immigrated to the United States and ultimately became a citizen.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Arellano talks about his family, including his parents, siblings and children; roughly two hundred men registered to enlist in the bracero program from his hometown, but only fifty were chosen; he chronicles the requirements for the contracting process, which he went through in Empalme, Sonora, México; from there, he was transported by train to Mexicali, Baja California, México, where he was stripped, examined and deloused; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Salinas, California, cutting, picking and packing carrots, celery and lettuce; he goes on to detail housing, living conditions, accommodations, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, deductions, remittances, correspondence, friendships and recreational activities, including trips into town; moreover, he recalls that upon arriving at the work camp, most men were in huaraches; the foreman told them to buy new shoes with their first check or they would be fired; many sent their money home and did not have anything left, so the foreman fired them; when the men complained, the foreman was fired; he also describes walking to church in the nearby town of Gonzalez, California, and sharing a taxi to go to the movies in Soledad, California; in addition, he offers detailed descriptions of his various duties with the crops; when cutting celery, he sometimes worked until midnight using rubber suits, because it was raining; he also used the short hoe, which was extremely difficult to endure; later, in 1970, he immigrated to the United States, and he ultimately became a citizen.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
GMR Transcription Service
Interview with Enrique Arellano by Kim Sibrel, 2008, "Interview no. 1405," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.