Oscar J. Martinez
Border Labor History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
(Former INS Commissioner, politician) Born in Victoria, Texas, on June 9, 1939; grew up in Galveston; graduated from Saint Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas, in 1961; served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines for four years; received his Master's in Community Organization at the University of Pitt; worked for the Houston Neighborhood Centers Day Care Association in a Manpower Program; head of Houston SER office; employed by the diocese at Galveston and Houston; elected and re-elected Houston's Comptroller from 1971-1977; in 1977 served as INS Commissioner for two and a half years; operates Castillo interests; headed the National Economic Development Association (NEDA) in 1980; has served as State Treasurer of the Democratic Party in Texas; was appointed to the National Hispanic Advisory Committee.
Summary of Interview
Biography; circumstances leading to his appointment as INS Commissioner, including anecdotes about high government officials; his work at INS, including opposition to his policies, unannounced visits to INS centers and problems encountered, participation in apprehending the undocumented and conversations with them; bridge demonstration at El Paso-Cd. Juarez in March, 1979; meetings with with Mexican officials; Carter Plan for the Undocumented; criticism of INS policies by Chicano groups; trip to refugee camp in Thailand in 1978; the "Boat People"; the Tortilla Curtain; meetings with Lopez Portillo; Cuban refugees; United Farm Workers Unions with respect to undocumented migration; the KKK incident; Mennonite question; unsuccessful plan to shift Border Patrol from Dept. of Justice to Dept. of Treasury; "Operation Outreach"; problems along the U.S.-Canadian border.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Virgilio H. Sanchez, Manuela Barron, Irene Ramirez
Interview with Leonel J. Castillo by Oscar J. Martinez, 1980, "Interview no. 532," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.