An executive order called the Mexican Farm Labor Program founded the Bracero program in 1942. This series of diplomatic agreements between Mexico and the United States has allowed millions of Mexican men to work legally in the United States on short-term employment contracts. These agreements dealt with a national labour shortage in agriculture during World War II and, tacitly, they remedied previous deportations and repatriations from the Depression period, which were wrongly directed at Mexican Americans who were U.S. citizens. After its end in 1964, the Bracero program had brought more than four million Braceros (weapons) to American agriculture and railways. Many workers have faced a number of injustices and abuses, including poor quality housing, discrimination and unfulfilled contracts, or wage fraud. Nevertheless, the impact of the bracero program on the history and patterns of migration and settlements in the United States remains an important area to explore and evaluate, particularly in the context of citizens` rights, social justice and Latino history in the United States. After expressing its concerns during negotiations with the U.S. government, the Mexican government considered the benefits of an employment contract. This included creating jobs for unemployed poor men, which could otherwise cause social unrest in Mexico; the acquisition of new skills and knowledge by workers who could then benefit in Mexico once the workers return home; and infusion of U.S. dollars into the Mexican economy from remittances sent to workers to their U.S. families. For its part, the United States was ready to attract workers who would replace American farm workers who entered military service or left rural areas to find better-paying jobs in cities while the war economy was expanding.
James Halabuk (project leader) is a doctoral student in the Department of History and Art at the GMU. A graduate of a field of teaching in Latin American and Chicano history, he is interested in both the digital humanities and the preservation of the Bracero experience. He teaches courses in American history and Latin American history, as well as seminars on imperialism and revolutionary movements. James has received a number of fellowships, including a teaching guild fellowship in American History. Kristine Navarro (Director of Collections) is Director of the Institute of Oral History at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). She directs and directs the oral history collection, field maintenance strategies, post-maintenance treatment methods and conservation techniques that meet the principles, standards and rules of the field. Their interest in research is Latin history, immigration, African-Americans in the Southwest and the Braceros. Among the most recent works are Wheresoever My People Chance to Dwell: Oral interviews with African American women in El Paso.