Short Essay

Migration and Culture – SBS 450 Spring 2003       B. Linder

The Bracero Concept, a Naïve and Doomed to Fail Proposal

or Might It Be Revived …With a Twist?

***** DRAFT     INCOMPLETE *****

During World War II, in the early 1940’s, a labor concept was launched and a social experiment was commenced.  It was not intended to be either of the above, just merely an attempt to resolve an economic issue of the times.  Large numbers of domestic workers were either in the military or employed in the war effort leaving a great labor shortage in the agriculture industry.  The result was the Bracero guest worker/field labor program.  Over the next few decades as the Bracero Program shifted methods and goals, great controversy arose over whether to modify, continue or even terminate the program entirely.  Both the Mexican and American governments had entered into agreements to initiate formal measures of operation, which then became law.  However, abuses by the American government, the agriculture industry and some migrants themselves were cause for hostility between governments, farmers, labor unions, domestic and migrant workers and citizens in general.  The program was terminated in 1965.


(mid portion removed)


            I end this essay with a reference to its title.  The past 60 years of border operations have been highly frustrating, laden with contradictory missions and fraught with antagonistic public opinion towards third-world-type immigrants.  Nevertheless, a new awareness of serious flaws in certain traditional mind-sets may create a window of opportunity for innovative and constructive change that will ultimately benefit our entire country and make a place for valuable contributions to our society by migrants of all groups.



***To be completed***

Course readings from which information has been utilized in the preparation of this paper

“The Unwanted”, a mid-70’s movie viewed in class

“Dying to Work”, a special report from the Arizona Republic, on illegal immigrant workers

“The Heartland’s Raw Deal”, a report on meatpacking industry abuses of migrant labor

“Covering Immigration”, by Leo Chavez, an assigned reading

“The Bracero Program and Its Aftermath”, a publication by the State of California (

“Bracero Timeline”, a history of the original Bracero program, from the Dallas Morning News

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