Mexican Laborers Get Back Wages

Angel Acevedo, Son of a Bracero
Angel Acevedo, Son of a Bracero

During World War II, our area's fields were practically empty while US soldiers fought overseas. To fill the void, Mexican laborers worked the fields for more than 20 years. Today, some will finally receive compensation for back wages.

Angel Acevedo's father came to the United States in the early 40s as a bracero, or Mexican laborer.

According to a contract, he was paid 5 cents a day to work in a cotton field. But 10 percent of that money was withheld with the promise that he would receive it when he returned to Mexico.

60 years later, Acevedo's family is still waiting.

"Politicians: they line their pockets first and the people are the ones that suffer, "Angel Acevedo said of his father's lost wages. "It's always been like that over there."

After a long legal battle, Mexican laborers who worked on US farms, railroads or mines will be eligible to apply for compensation.

The Mexican government will have to pay about 14.5 million dollars in back wages to these Mexican laborers. But not all of them will get a piece of this pie.

"On paper, it looks like a victory, and no question about it; it is a legal victory, but ultimately it's going to be a very limited victory."  said Juan Jose Gutierrez, a spokesman for the Braceroproa Alliance.

Gutierrez represents surviving braceros and their families. He estimates only 500 ex-braceros across the country will receive some payment.

But Acevedo says this paycheck does not repay his father's hard work.

"That labor out there is not easy," Acevedo said. "Those guys that went through that deserve more."

Some will receive more.

"Ex-braceros and their relatives should not lose hope if they aren't covered by this lawsuit," Gutierrez said. "They will be able to register sometime in the next 60 days and they will be compensated down the road."

But time is running out to apply. In order to qualify, a bracero must apply before December 23 at any Mexican consulate in the United States.

For more information, visit or call 877-436-9359.