Texas Braceros the Bracero Program Research Paper

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United States citizens had been available for these jobs during the immense unemployment that existed during the 1930s, forcing the Mexicans out. World War II saw these workers enlisting in the military, working in factories, or moving into other jobs as the economy generally expanded.

The Mexican immigrants not only provided the plentiful labor that was needed, but they provided it cheaply -- typical wages were between fifty or sixty cents an hour, or around ten dollars per acre (Renteria 2003). Demand for agricultural products specifically and throughout the economy in general continued to expand during World War II and in the decades following, but prices were kept fairly stable during the war and even when they began to increase evenly due to economic expansion, worker's wages did not really rise (Renteria 2003). This meant that farmers were making an increased profit utilizing the under-paid and under-appreciated Mexican immigrant workers, but the economic benefit of this situation was not especially profound or long-lasting, as evidenced by many of the same current labor and wage issues that exist in the agricultural industry today.

Racial Tensions

One of the reasons that the Bracero Program was implemented was due to the already widespread hiring of illegal immigrants in the agricultural industry. This legalization of an already-existing practice was meant to help regulate the number and location of immigrants in the country, and in many ways contributed to the racial discrimination that already played a major part in the relationship between many farmers and the immigrant workers they hired (Zatz 1993). Not only were their linguistic, cultural, and physical differences between the white farmers and the Mexican immigrants they hired, but their legally separate status further reinforced and institutionalized the racism in the situation.

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The civil rights movement gained full steam during the last years of the Bracero Program, and the focus in the nation -- especially in many Southern states -- on the racial issues between whites and blacks in America largely eclipsed the racial tensions that existed between the Mexican/Mexican-American population and white farmers. The illegal or semi-legal status of the Mexican immigrant population in the United States made the racial problems facing this group seem inconsequential in face of the larger and more pressing, at least in terms of media coverage and political attention, concerns of the racial conflicts between black and white Americans (Zatz 1993). Though there was some success at gaining increased recognition as a minority group during the same period, largely through university and farm-workers movements, national attention was not directed towards the racial aspect of these issues in the way that it was applied to the larger civil rights movement.


The Bracero Program was a major source of immigration and labor for the state of Texas after the state joined the ranks of participating states. The impact of the immigration created by the Bracero Program and continuing in subsequent and current waves of illegal immigration has done a great deal to shape the political, social, economic, and racial trajectory of the state as well as much of the rest of the country. Immigration is still a highly controversial issue along all of these lines today, and will likely remain so until the full scope of the issue is acknowledged......

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