Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type




First Advisor

Patricia Limerick


This thesis will analyze the Bracero Program, a temporary guest-worker program between Mexico and the United States that spanned twenty-two years between 1942 and 1964. This program was a joint venture that both countries deemed necessary as a result of the sudden labor shortage caused by World War II. Over the course of the program nearly 5 million Mexican nationals participated as Braceros and worked on American farms and on railroads in over twenty-four states.1 Although in economic terms the Bracero Program was a success, providing financial stability for farmers and monetary compensation for Bracero workers, the development of this program over two decades caused many unforeseen consequences that ultimately tainted the economic success of this program. Throughout the following thesis I will argue that the Bracero Program failed as a government-sponsored program. The reasons for this failure stem firstly from poor planning on the part of government officials, insufficient infrastructure to run such a program, and a lack of enforcement on the ground level. I will argue that the political climate of the 1940s and 1950s influenced the creation of government documents central to the Bracero Program. The politically charged language within these documents affected the U.S. perception and treatment of Bracero workers and undermined the structure and succ ess of the program. I will also examine the impact of illegal immigration on the Bracero Program, and the inadequate and unsuccessful response to remedy this problem by both the United States and Mexico.