WHAT WENT WRONG?

By  John Derby
Times Publisher
January 7, 2016

Fifty one years ago, I was still working for the local daily and the state put an end to the Bracero program which allowed Mexican laborers to come into the United States, work and then take their earnings home.
They were happy and the farmers were happy.
The unions decided that those people were taking jobs away from union members. Not so, the union members would never work in the fields picking tomatoes. It was always beneath them.
Well it was then that the Mexicans started sneaking across the border to escape poverty and unemployment in their own country. After all, they had relatives here, and the jobs were here which needed someone to work. California would have come to a standstill without them.
Now fast forward 50 years, and we wonder why we have an immigrant problem. Do you think that the Mexicans wanted to live here? No, they wanted to live with their families in Mexico, but the cost of crossing the border was so much they couldn’t afford to go back and forth each year.
Many decided not to go back and planted their roots here.
Now the one-way migration is seen to be a problem, and some of it is, but who caused it? The Mexican workers were very happy to do work in the fields even though they were paid half what other people would work for.
Now we say to them, “This is not your country and get out.”
I agree that you can’t have everyone crossing the border or there would be no controls. However, if they had let the Bracero program continue, there would not have been a massive influx of Mexicans into the United States.
They would have lived happily in their own country. The money they had earned would have gone to pay for homes and ranches in which they planned to retire.
I know this because back 50 years ago I lived with the Braceros in the labor camp so I could write their story. It’s true the conditions in the fields and the housing camps were often poor, but I have not changed my mind in all the years since.
If we had just left the Bracero program alone, we would have had a fraction of the number of undocumented immigrants we have today.
The Mexicans would have been happy in their own nation with their compatriots, and Trump would have had nothing to squawk about today.
That’s the way I see it.

From the boat,
Captain John


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