1942: The Bracero Program

During World War II, the U.S. suffered a labor shortage as men were called off to war. To fill the shortage of farm labor, the American and Mexican governments initiated the Bracero (“laborer”) or “guest-worker” program. The program allowed U.S. agri-business to recruit workers in Mexico to work at low wages. Mexicans were fumigated with DDT before being allowed in the U.S., and despite terms created to avoid exploitation of the hired labor, Mexicans were treated poorly once they signed contracts. Pro-civil rights protests and abuse of the program would lead to its end in 1964.