The Bracero Program and Undocumented Workers
Digital History ID 600
Testimony Before Congress
In 1951 and 1952, migratory farmworkers testified before Congress. An excerpt from the testimony follows. The consequence of such testimony was to encourage a massive effort to deport undocumented Mexican workers, known as Operation Wetback.
Q. Where is your home in Texas?
A. Weslaco, Tex. (Lower Rio Grande Valley).
Q. Why don't you stay down around Weslaco and work down there?
A. Well, I don't stay there because I can't make any money over there in that town.
Q. What is the reason you can't make any money there?
A. Well, because there is a lot of laborers in that town and they can't get any work. This year they promised to pay 75 cents an hour. You can go anywhere to look for a job and you can't find any job....
Q. Who promised you 75 centers?
A. Well, on the radio, I listen to the radio, and they took all the Nationals back to Mexico and so want to raise the price for us, but I and my brothers, my two brothers, was looking for a job all the way around the town and they couldn't find any, and myself started to work about 20 days after I got there, and I got started to get some people to get ready to come to Montana with me.
Q. I want to ask Mr. F---- about these Mexican Nationals in Texas. you say that you couldn't make any money there and wages were too low, there weren't any jobs because there was an abundance of other workers?
Q. Were those other workers Mexican Nationals that came across the river?
A. Yes, sir; they crossed the river, and they worked for 3 or 4 days, dollar a day, two dollars and a half, and there is the reason we can't get jobs.
Q. You mean they paid them two dollars or two and a half?
A. Two and a half or three dollars.
Q. For how many hours?
A. Ten hours.
Q. They are getting about 25 cents an hour?
Q. You spoke about Mexican Nationals. Do you happen to know whether those are wetback Mexicans, or were those contract Mexicans that were brought in under the Government program? Which of those two was it that took most of the work around Weslaco?
A. Well, it is Mexicans that is from Mexico. They just crossed the river, and that is the reason they got a lot of laborers there in that town, and they don't get any jobs for us on farm labor.
Source: Migratory Labor. Hearings before Subcommittee on Labor and Labor-Management Relations. 82nd Congress, 2nd Session.
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