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Grounds For DreamingMexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the California Farmworker Movement$
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Lori A Flores

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300196962

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300196962.001.0001

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Bound in Tension

Bound in Tension

Mexican Americans, Braceros, and Undocumented Migrants, 1947–1960

(p.75) 3 Bound in Tension
Grounds For Dreaming

Lori A. Flores

Yale University Press

This chapter examines the attitudes of Mexican Americans toward braceros and “wetbacks” in the Salinas Valley during the period 1947–1960, with particular emphasis on how the tension between them hindered the formation of a larger transnational Mexican-origin community in the region. It considers the concerns of some Mexican American middle-class civil rights leaders about the threat posed by undocumented immigrants on their economic stability and social respectability. It also discusses two particular flashpoints that brought the intraethnic conflict between Mexican Americans, braceros, and undocumented migrants into greater relief: the Immigration and Naturalization Service's “Operation Wetback” of 1954 and the peak of the Bracero Program in 1956. The chapter shows that the Mexican American agricultural working class felt betrayed by the state for creating a Bracero Program and immigration system that served at the pleasure of agribusiness instead of protecting them as worker-citizens.

Keywords:   braceros, Mexican Americans, wetbacks, Salinas Valley, undocumented immigrants, intraethnic conflict, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Bracero Program, immigration, agribusiness

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