A Little Bit of Texas History – The Bracero Program

4 August 2014

Veni – Laboravi – Mansi

Bracero ID Card
Bracero ID Card

“On this day in 1942, the United States government signed the Mexican Farm Labor Program Agreement with Mexico. Managed by several government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, as a temporary, war-related measure to supply much-needed workers during the early years of World War II, the bracero (Spanish for “arm-man,” or manual laborer) program continued uninterrupted until 1964. The agreement guaranteed a minimum wage of thirty cents an hour and humane treatment of Mexican farmworkers in the United States. During the first five years of the program, Texas farmers chose not to participate in the restrictive accord, opting to hire farmworkers directly from Mexico who entered the United State illegally. The abundant supply of labor brought into the United States legally finally enticed Texans to participate fully in the program. More than 4.5 million entered the United States during the twenty-two years of the program. Most never returned. Mexican agricultural workers, considered an unlimited supply of cheap labor, have been pawns to a host of economic, political, social, and humanitarian interests. Journalists such as Pauline Kibbe documented how poor wages, lack of educational opportunities for the children, malnutrition, poor sanitation, and discrimination have contributed to continued tension between Texas growers and migrant laborers and the federal government. Migrant workers have nonetheless continued to walk to the United States, legally or illegally.” – TSHA Online

The U.S. Department of Labor officer in charge of the program, Lee G. Williams, had described it as a system of “legalized slavery.” – farmworkers.org: The Bracero Program

Americans suspected immigrants bore all manner of diseases. DDT did not control diseases.
Americans suspected immigrants bore all manner of disease. FYI: DDT did not control diseases.

“In 1942, the U.S. Government approached the Mexican Government about their need for migrant labor after being pressured by farm owners.  World War II was getting underway which meant that poor white, black and domestic Latino laborers would either serve in the military or take jobs in better-paying industrialized factories.  The Mexican Government, who worried that they would not have enough laborers to tend to their new projects to modernize their farming, agreed to allow Mexican Nationalists to emigrate.  While the U.S. Government desperately needed migrant laborers to tend to their farms, the Mexican Government saw an opportunity for their country by “linking its participation to membership in a world democratic community by claiming (to its citizens) that the Program would modernize the country and transform it from a ‘backward’ country into a modern nation-state”.  The hope for both countries was that the Bracero Program contract would keep track of and control the number of workers crossing the border.  The Mexican Government agreed to recruit the laborers while the U.S. Government facilitated
employment, wages, working conditions and transportation.  The provisions to the contract for the Mexican workers were that they were given transportation to and from the farms they were working (paid for by the U.S. Government), a minimum wage equal to U.S. domestic farm laborers, and decent housing to live in while they were working.  The Mexicans laborers had to provide their own food and health insurance, which were usually deducted from their pay.  At the end of their contract they were to return back to Mexico at the end of the harvest.  Any Mexican who did not abide by their contract was deported back to Mexico.” – University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Farm Labor Cycles

During World War I, relatively few Americans went off to war, compared to the next war. American farmers worked hard to supply the war effort, producing an abundance of agricultural products. Mexican Braceros commonly worked alongside American farmers. The war had farmers on a roll. A post-war economy came as a financial shock to our farmers as orders from the federal government dwindled to a halt. Farmers, mortgaged to the hilt, worked even harder, producing more, to pay debts, but inevitably, inescapably, bankruptcy took hold of U.S. agriculture.

American men returning from the first World War needed jobs, so our federal government deported about 500,000 Mexican farm workers and the Great Depression added to the conundrum of finding work for native-born American men. Most Mexican farm immigrants chose to remain in the U.S. as illegal aliens.

World War II pretty much depleted the American workforce of men, thereby leading to The Bracero Program at the behest of famers. The workers came. They worked. They were made promises. Promises were broken. Notably, Texas opted out of the Bracero Program, preferring an “open border” policy.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform – New Bracero Program In Disguise

This time around, it’s the U.S. Chamber of Commerce clamoring for “comprehensive immigration reform”. As Yogi Berra would say, “It’s deja vu all over again.” Industries need workers. American citizens have learned how to live on “disability”, “extended unemployment”, food stamps and subsidized housing (including the reverse mortgage program). Most welfare recipients have free cell phones paid for by tax dollars. But, laziness isn’t the only driving force behind “comprehensive immigration reform”.

Apart from the two World Wars, another war has dramatically depleted the U.S. labor force: a war on unborn American citizens – abortion. The War on the Womb has claimed the lives of over 53,000,000 Americans, the equivalent of almost twice the population of Texas. Yes, there is a dire need for willing workers. But, politics seems to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at just the right moment.

What will be the outcome? It’s difficult to predict, but this sitting president threatens to use his pen and his telephone to override and unconstitutionally bypass Congress. Will the Tyrant-in-Chief declare himself King?

Regardless what happens with or without “comprehensive immigration reform”, history is poised to repeat itself as The Great Depression II looms ever larger. Under this president, national debt has dangerously risen well beyond any capacity we have to repay it. National debt this morning surpasses $17.6 TRILLION, translating to $151,527/taxpayer.

John White

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