Long-Lost Photos Reveal Life of Mexican Migrant Workers in 1950s America
Portrait of Mexican farm laborer, Rafael Tamayo, employed in the United States under the Bracero Program to harvest crops on Californian farms, 1957.
World War II affected the U.S. labor market in countless ways, but in the farms of the South and West, the impact was perhaps most visible when harvest time arrived. With American workers off fighting, Mexican farm workers were brought to the U.S. as legal guest workers known as braceros.
The program continued after the war ended, as workers continued to cross the border in search of work. [Photographer Sid Avery documented the Bracero program in 1957.]
Mexican farm workers, on a farm in California, 1957.
Mexican laborers show their 'permission to work' papers in California, 1957.
After the various medical examinations, the men are dusted with DDT [a pesticide that was later discovered to be toxic].
Tamayo and his fellow workers take a break for food during their work day on a ranch in California, 1957.
...When the program was allowed to expire at the end of 1964, farmers protested that they could not find or afford enough American workers to harvest their crops — and undocumented immigration soared.
[Officials in both countries want a enact a similar program now, to "bring prosperity", "secure workers' rights", decrease "unlawful activity", and "serve as a model around the world".]