Monday, November 24, 2008

Compelling stories of braceros' efforts to document their entitlement to settlement funds

Read here Randal C. Archibold's story on what these former guest workers from Mexico are facing as they seek a piece of a settlement recently reached with the Mexican government for benefits earned but not previously paid. The settlement was explained in an earlier post.

The story's dateline is Fresno, California, in the heart of the Great Valley, where lawyers and other advocates for the former braceros are assisting them. Here's an excerpt about the role of these advocates:
Leonel Flores, an advocate for farm workers here, said he doubted that very many former braceros still had the documents to meet the standards of proof. In addition, he said, their documents are rife with erroneous dates and spellings of names, the handiwork of braceros who hardly went to school, if it all, and government bureaucrats on both sides of the border.
* * *
Mr. Flores said local lawyers were documenting the problems in an effort to persuade Mexican authorities to be more flexible.
Archibold's story features several poignant tales of the now elderly workers who are seeking to participate in the settlement but who have no documentation of their employment in the U.S. more than half a century ago. One said, "I remember everything, the fields, the places, the crops . . . But they are not accepting my memories."

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