There has finally been a preliminary settlement in the case of the Mexican braceros denied wages earned as guest workers in the U.S. in World War II. Surviving workers, and heirs of the deceased, living in the U.S. will now be eligible to collect $3,500 each.

The braceros case has served for many years as a prominent example of the struggle to obtain justice for old wrongs, and there are strong parallels to the fight for reparations for slavery.

From 1942 to 1946, hundreds of thousands of Mexicans served as guest workers in the U.S., laboring on farms or as railroad workers for about 50 cents an hour. Ten percent of their wages was deducted and sent to the Mexican government, to be given to the braceros upon their return home. Many of the workers never received that money, and have been fighting for their lost wages ever since.

The settlement comes as the result of a class-action lawsuit filed in California in 2001, and the case raised several of the same legal issues as reparations for slavery. Many of the workers had been unable to read their contracts to know that they were owed wages, or were too intimidated to seek wages from the Mexican government at the time. As a result, the case was initially dismissed on the grounds that too much time had passed for a legal remedy. The lawsuit was initially filed against three defendants, the Mexican government, the U.S. government, and Wells Fargo Bank, but only the Mexican government was considered to have legal responsibility for the lost wages.

Former braceros, or their heirs, must be able to provide sufficient documentation of their eligibility.

Update: For the latest information that I have on seeking compensation for former braceros, please see this post.

73 Responses to “Mexican braceros to receive compensation”


  1. James says:

    Rose,

    I'm not an expert, but my understanding is that the process is (or was) for U.S. residents to contact the nearest Mexican consulate, and for Mexican residents to contact the nearest federal office. Good luck!


  2. Rose says:

    I contacted the Mexican consulate & they said that it was over but to my understanding in Mexico they could still claim the money. Do you think if we would have my uncle(grandmas brother) contact the federal office we could file a claim?


  3. James says:

    That's interesting, Rose. I don't know whether it's true that your family could still pursue a claim in Mexico, but I would certainly reach out to Mexican federal government and find out. The settlement in the U.S. called for U.S. residents to work through the Mexican consulates, but I don't know whether, after that process has expired, the legal claim is still valid in Mexico itself.


  4. Rose says:

    Thank you James!


  5. Providence says:

    Would someone be able to tell ne where I can collect the check??


  6. James DeWolf Perry says:

    Providence, this is the best information that I have on the braceros program. Please bear in mind that I'm not an expert; my knowledge comes solely from reading newspaper accounts of the lawsuits:

    My understanding is that the process for claiming compensation depends upon whether the former braceros, or any heirs, live in Mexico or in the United States.

    In the case of residents of the U.S., the class action lawsuit dictates the process to be followed, and I believe the first step is to contact the nearest Mexican consulate for information and to file a claim. If the claim has not been honored, I would try the consulate first in order to learn more about the status of the claim. If that fails, or if the Mexican government denies the claim, I think contacting a U.S. lawyer would have to be the next step.

    In the case of residents of Mexico, all claims are handled by the Mexican government. I believe that requires contacting a Mexican federal office for information or to pursue a claim. As in the U.S., if that claim is denied, I would assume the next step would have to be to consult with a lawyer, in this case, a lawyer licensed to practice in Mexico."

    If anyone has better information than this, please speak up. Many people have been visiting this page seeking additional information and advice.


  7. Compensation for Mexican braceros | The Living Consequences says:

    […] Four years ago, I wrote a short blog post about a preliminary settlement in the case of Mexican braceros denied wages earned as guest workers in the U.S. in World War II. […]


  8. James DeWolf Perry says:

    I've written a new blog post, summarizing the information in these comments about seeking compensation for the braceros program, and providing updated information.

    You can find that blog post here: http://living.jdewperry.com/2012/10/compensation-….

    If you have information for those seeking compensation for themselves or family members, please leave a comment there. I know that those who continue to visit this page looking for information will appreciate your help.


  9. Bracero Child says:

    I have a copy of the so called "contract'. My father was part of the program in the early 50's.
    It does not state that a % of wages will be withheld and forwarded to Mexico. It only states what he will earn each day and the date of the contract. By the way, his wages were $1.25 for the day! less than two dollars. My mother gave me the copy as a memento. My father passed away 8 years after returning to Mexico. I was 4 at the time. My mother has also passed away. My father returned to Mexico after two years because he was making the same as he would have made back home. This was a total violation and exploitation of workers.


  10. Bracero Child says:

    And yes, it's an actual contract. It has the name of the program signatures and immigration stamps.


  11. Manuel Ortiz says:

    I was told by the Mexican forum to search the following 3 websites for assistant…

    1) Mexican Consulate from your town.

    2) http://www.UFW.org
    3) Farmworkerjustice.org

    So far Im searching for results. If I find any leads , I will post something.

    And if someone else has any info or valuable leads, please send, thank you.


  12. Manuel Ortiz says:

    send any info to my e-mail on the bracero funds or in box me on Facebook.

    Thank you.


  13. Esperanza Serrano says:

    I am inquiring about the Bracero Program…my Dad came to California under the program …sometime in 1947 and left after two years. He returned to Mexico at that time. Is my mother entitled to any benefits.


  14. James DeWolf Perry says:

    Can anyone help with this question?

    The only information I have on compensation for the bracero program can be found here: http://living.jdewperry.com/2012/10/compensation-….

    And another reader commented, above, offering these suggestions:

    1) Mexican Consulate from your town.
    2) http://www.UFW.org
    3) Farmworkerjustice.org


  15. Lupita says:

    My grandfather worked for the bracero program between 1950 to 1960, he did not get pay. Mostly in the san Joaquin valley, Ca. Wanted to know if my mother can claim it.


  16. Maurilio Gama Acuña says:

    My brother in law work in the bracero progam from 1956 to 1960 and He wants to know if He’s available for any back pay to Him


  17. James DeWolf Perry says:

    If you haven't already done so, please look here for what little I know about receiving compensation: http://living.jdewperry.com/2012/10/compensation-….


  18. Gloria Calderon says:

    Hello, I was wondering if you can answer/help me with this question:

    A person who entered without legal documents worked in the fields from 1970 to 1974. He returned to Mexico after that. Can he apply for benefits?

    Thank you in advance for your assistance.


  19. James DeWolf Perry says:

    As the blog owner, I can't answer that. Can anyone else?


  20. David Garza says:

    My wife's grandfather ( who is no deceased ) worked as a Bracero during the1940's and 50's. My mother – in – law his daughter who lives in Mexico traveled to Monterey, Mexico to file claim on monies approved for reimbursement. My mother – in – law has all the documentation necessary to prove that her father worked the time specified. All the paper work was filed. Went back two more times and still no money. My mother – in – law is very ill and is angry that she may never see the money owed to her father. She wants what belonged to her father through his hard back breaking work be returned to her and her father's living family. It is like he never existed. Has there been any updates on this money?


  21. Bracero's Little Girl says:

    I was 4 years old when sleeping and playing underneath the orange trees while my parents picked the fruit and know I suffer from many autoimmune diseases. Is there something I can do to get assistance?


  22. James DeWolf Perry says:

    I don't believe the braceros compensation program could help you with this. (It's a very specific program). You could try a legal case, but I suspect it would be very hard to win. If you wanted to try, I think you'd have to start by finding a lawyer (perhaps pro bono).

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