Bracero Program Facts: Learn About Mexican Farm Labor Laws

These Bracero program facts show that approximately 4.5 million Mexicans migrated as they searched for work in the U.S.

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The Bracero program was introduced in 1943 after the U.S. signed the Mexican Farm Labour Agreement.

It was supposed to change migration patterns and help public law serve justice with humane treatment, keeping in mind the country's social justice and Latino history. The Bracero program was a series of laws and diplomatic agreements that allowed agricultural workers from Mexico to work in agricultural fields in the United States from 1942 to 1964.

The program included sequential agreements and laws, which provided farmworkers with at least 30 cents per working hour, good living conditions, security from military forces, and wages for personal saving accounts. The period of the Second World War granted the import of laborers on a contractual basis from Guam.

With the amendment of the Agricultural Act of 1949, the Migrant Labour Act of 1961 was also enacted simultaneously, forming the formal framework of work in the Bracero program. The report of the American Economic Review concluded that there were no adverse effects of the Bracero program on American farmworkers, but its termination didn't guarantee minimum wages for them.

The employment of 5 million people was established in 24 U.S. states. The wives of braceros were inactive in the work field and enrolled in household chores instead.

The changes made to the Bracero program in 1948 committed sanctions on undocumented American workers. The different contracts and lack of support from some local officials led to bracero strikes, which further led to the termination of the program. 3.8 million farmworkers partitioned the termination of the Bracero program in 1951.

The new public law of 1959 demanded the same benefits of the Bracero program by American workers under the Department of Labor.

What is the Bracero program?

The Bracero program was a Mexican farm labor agreement. The governments of the U.S. and Mexico worked jointly with the Department of Labor, Department of State, and Department of Justice to create it. Its initiation took place in California, which also focused on dealing with the discrimination between whites and blacks.

After the world war, the labor shortage on farms was fulfilled by this program. The middle of the '40s led to the closure of this program due to poor treatment of the workers on the borders.

The period between 1942-1947 reported the lowest admission of braceros, and a 10% fall in accountability by employees was noted.

The Bribe Tribe was known for gaining access to beneficial contracts.

In 1952, Truman's Commission revealed a decrease in wages of American farmworkers due to the enrollment of Mexican farmworkers.

The initial admission of braceros was made for sugar harvesting in 1942. The admission of approximately 2,000,000 braceros took place from 1948-1964.

The History Of The Bracero Program

The Bracero program, or the Mexican Farm Labor Agreement, was a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Mexico that lasted from 1942-1964. This program allowed Mexican laborers to temporarily work in the United States doing much-needed agricultural labor during the Second World War. The program was created due to intense lobbying by agribusiness owners who needed more workers to help with the few farm laborers available.

The signing of an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico took place on August 4, 1942, leading to the Bracero program's formation. It was brought to an end in 1964 with the gain of the finest guest working program in the U.S.

In 1989, El Paso was home to about 1,500 braceros, and El Centro had a population of about 200. To qualify for the Bracero program, farm laborers from Mexico needed to pass an exam that would prove they were healthy enough for hard manual labor.

Then, Mexican workers earned a visa and traveled by bus to El Paso, where they entered the United States.

The Catholic church partnered with leading organizations during the Bracero program. The churches viewed these workers as Catholics and wanted to protect their catholic workers' rights and welfare.

The history of the Southwest U.S. area is ripe with the ill-treatment of migrated laborers, their sufferings, racism, being overworked, etc.

The emergence of the program was due to the unavailability of farmers on farms, which threatened the economy of the U.S. The program aided the economy by providing a skilled and documented workforce. The proceedings of the program continued after the war too.

The beginning of strikes occurred mainly in the Pacific Northwest when the promised benefits were not given to workers. After the end of the program, it was noticed that the people still fought for their rights, wages, and housing facilities though they were given none of them.

The arrival of Congress ended this program in 1964. The depressed Mexican farmworkers continued fighting for their rights and occupied the areas of the Southwest U.S., further flaming the political and racial disputes.

The '30s pressured Mexicans and Mexican Americans, ranging from 4,000,000-10,000,000 people, to leave the U.S.

Orders Under The Bracero Program

There was an order that there would be no involvement by the military of Mexico to enroll in the Bracero program or the Mexican Farm Labor program.

Per the guidelines issued by the White House on June 25, 1941, there would be the abortion of discrimination against migrants.

Mexican Federal Label's Article 29 specified the provision of transportation and living expenses.

The farm owners were not allowed to terminate the migrant Mexican workers for the sake of less wage provision.

The Mexican administration would lead the contractual agreement between the worker and the employer.

The Mexican Health Department was made responsible for checking the provision of good living facilities and healthcare benefits.

It was mandatory to renew the expired contracts to access the benefits under the Bracero program.

The Purpose Of The Bracero Program

American migrant farmworkers migrated with their whole families, raising issues for household facilities provision by the growers. Single members accomplished the migration of Mexican farmers with no families, which provided ease for the growers in household facilities provided to all migrants.

Recovery from termination of the program: when the program ended in 1964, the benefits were no longer granted to Mexican migrants. If the documented workers were recognized, they were given compensation for their left-over rights and their dignity and appraisals.

The world war era declined the growth conditions of farms and the staff working on them. At that time, Mexicans were invited through the Bracero program to work as laborers and earn sufficient wages and other survival facilities.

The workers who could not get their legal documents to enter the work field received their access without permission and started working to access the minimum wage rate and other benefits under the Bracero program.

While working on farms, approximately two million workers lost their lives, and others were forced to turn to other sources.

More death rates increased the demand for manual laborers in the U.S.

Advanced agricultural skills were taught to Mexican farmers by the Mexican government to help them access new agricultural programs.

The Mexican economy was escalated by those earning money working in the U.S. That money was used for the growth and development of Mexico City.

Did You Know...

In the '60s, the introduction of the mechanical cotton harvester and its illegal usage exempted braceros from the Bracero program. After the abolition of this program, some Mexicans resided illegally in the U.S. and continued to work to earn wages. It has been noted that Mexican farmers are highly exploited in the U.S.

The deficiency of workers in farmlands initiated the Bracero program that welcomed the Mexican workforce with a promise of handsome payments and living conditions.

The workers were allowed to migrate alone, leaving their families behind. The program saw many migrations of workers from Mexico and was also marked as the finest U.S.-based employment program in history.

The program prevailed after World War II, and migrants became permanent workers in the farms of the U.S.

The program focused on combating racism and working without disputes. Mexico believed that there would be growth in their own country as the earned money from the U.S. would be sent back to their country.

The termination of this program took place in 1964 due to incomplete promises made to migrant workers. Also, the workers faced bad treatment, which ended the program after the entry of Congress.

This program was a series of laws and diplomatic agreements that guaranteed sufficient and decent living conditions and other important incentives to the Mexican citizens and farmworkers. It is one of the landmark agreements ever signed in American history.

This program permitted Mexican men to work legally in the U.S. on a short-term contract labor program. It was mainly undertaken in the Second World War in order to address the national agricultural labor shortage that the United States faced.

The agreement guaranteed a minimum wage of about 30 cents per hour and protection from forced military service. Surety was given to put a portion of the minimum wage into the private savings accounts of laborers in Mexico.

The program also allowed migrant labor to be imported from Guam as a temporary measure over the issues raised in World War II. The agreement stated that bracero workers would not be discriminated against by white Americans. World War Two created a labor shortage in agriculture, which the U.S. and Mexico planned to offset by allowing Mexican labor under their farm labor program.

The program was banned from Texas for several years due to the discrimination of Mexican immigrants, which included maltreatment of the migrant workers at the Mexican border.

The ban was left in place as the Texas governor pleaded with Mexican officials on several occasions. As the program lasted for almost 22 years, it offered employment contracts to over 5 million Mexican braceros in 24 American states and became the largest foreign worker program for migrant labor in American history.

Only a small number of farmworkers were admitted from 1942 through 1947 during the Second World War. Yet, too much dependency was placed on these workers and the bracero communities. The 1943 strike in Dayton showed unity between the Mexican braceros and the domestic workers.

It allowed the government to force thousands of illegal workers into internment camps during World War Two. This also resulted in Truman’s commission, which disclosed that the presence of Mexican workers affected the net income of American farmers, and a new Bracero program for the Mexican nationals was to be made to counter the popularity of Mexican communism. Thus, the U.S. allowed an average of 200,000 farm workers from Mexico per year.


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