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The Price of Labor: Contextualizing and Humanizing the Braceros

Grade Level Grades 9-12
Resource Type Lesson Plan


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The Bracero program was a migrant labor program that grew out of a series of agreements between the U.S. and Mexican governments. It lasted 22 years from 1942 to 1964, and in that time, 4.6 million Mexicans signed contracts to work temporarily in the United States. It has been cited as the largest contract labor program in U.S. history. This mini-unit examines the socio-economic,environmental, political, and cultural aspects of the Bracero program.

Initially prompted out of concerns for agricultural labor shortages during World War II, the program had long lasting consequences that extended beyond its official end in 1964. The program grew in concert and in context with its times. A close examination of the program, including the little known experiences and oral testimonies of the Braceros themselves, allows for a rich interdisciplinary understanding of an important aspect of immigration law, policy and history. Using a blend of primary and secondary accounts, as well as audio and visual content, students will vividly examine the origins and consequences of the Bracero program. They will consider how immigration and labor affect the goods they consume today and have the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of these issues.

The Braceros mini-unitis divided into three parts designed for high school teachers to adapt and revise as necessary in order to shorten or extend learning. We estimate for most classrooms to teach all three lessons in their entirety will take 5 class periods of a traditional 50-minute length.

These lessons plans were designed in collaboration by the Untold History Education Project and Teach Immigration.


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