LAS 260 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: The Negotiation, Operation Bootstrap, Social Programs In The United States

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10 Sep 2017
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Mexican and Puerto Rican Labor Migration
1940-50s(WORLD WAR 2): Puerto Rican and Mexican workers were subjected to mass
labor importation programs in the US
Mexicans could earn legal entry into the country through the Emergency Farm
Labor or Bracero Program
For Puerto Rico this helped with the islands overpopulation and helped
reduce the unemployment rate
MEXICANS AND PUERTO RICANS SERVED AS VALUABLE LABOR TO
FULFILL AMERICAN ECONOMIC NEEDS
1945: Wave of Mexican migrant workers coming to Chicago
1946: A committee was made to help the workers with any needs they may be having
Began addressing the unfair pay, bad work conditions and long hours
Puerto Rican migrant workers had begun having the same issues, but did not
have formal agreements with the US like the Mexican workers
TWO FACTORS THAT MADE THEIR EXPERIENCES ALIKE
UNEQUAL PUERTO RICAN CITIZENSHIP
Their citizenship had limits, conditions and qualifications
They were locked in to a low-wage labor market(as well as the Mexicans)
NOT ALL MEXICANS IN THE US WERE NON CITIZENS
Those born in the US or naturalized immigrants
“Citizenship is both an abstract concept imposed by the state above….but
also a utilitarian instrument of migrant agency…(pg9)”
BECAUSE THE STATE BROUGHT THESE TWO GROUPS OF PEOPLE TOGETHER
THEY UNKNOWINGLY CREATED THE POSSIBILITIES FOR UNIONS BETWEEN
THE TWO….
Shared experiences, language, migratory routes, etc...made it possible for the
two groups to affiliate with one another
Formation of “Latinos”
Grouped together without much thought of historical conditions that made these
2 groups distinct
They were lumped together based on their perceived culture and Spanish
colonial heritage
Mexicans and Puerto Ricans worked for US and European companies in their homeland
but began migrating to mainland US during WWII as a much needed labor force when
most men were off fighting in the war
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“Imported Colonialism”: “racializes ethnic Mexicans as laborers and perpetually
positions them outside the nation-state regardless of their citizenship or birthplace.”
pg11
Marked as just another “non white” race
Formalizing Labor Migration Policy
Diverse worker population moves to urban areas
The dramatic economic shift that occurred during WWII is what caused the shift
in migration...industrialization causes farm/farm labor to diminish
US NEED CHEAP, LOW-WAGE WORKERS
Laborers brought in to fulfill the needs then gotten rid of after they have
completed their task
Mexican migration: known to be temporary
Puerto Rican migration: more ambiguous, maybe temporary, permanent,
etc...used to help lower unemployment rate in the colonial territory
Bracero Program(Mexican)
1942: Emergency Farm Labor Program
Importation of foreign workers to tend crops on farms and do other
fieldwork
Allowed employers to contract Mexican workers for 6 months at a time
Were to be given housing, lower food cost, a decent wage, and
water
Began in southwest, then program moved to the midwest
The negotiation of labor contracts spread to the railroad business as well
Railroad Bracero Program(1943): brought 10,000 Mexican men to work on
railroads
The Mexican government was skeptical of these government programs but
because most of the country was poor and destitute from the failed promises of
the Mexican Revolution they allowed their citizens to participate
Didn’t want to lose Mexican nationals and create a labor shortage within
Mexico
Mexican government tried to protect the Mexican workers from discrimination
and prejudices
This program excluded Texas in the early years citing that it was a
notoriously racist state
1946: new labor agreement would be negotiated; Mexican government
determining which states would be eligible and fight for better working conditions
Also wouldn’t allow Mexican workers to work in the sugar beet industry
because of how physically demanding the labor was
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