May 23, 1963
Honorable Augustus F. Hawkins
My dear Mr. Hawkins:
We are writing to urge that you vote against H.R. 5497 which provides for another two-year extension of Public Law 78, the Mexican contract labor (bracero) importation program. This is an issue of vital importance to California and deserves your most careful consideration.
P.L. 78 is a major factor perpetuating unemployment, underemployment and poverty among domestic farm workers - the utterly deprived and truly disinherited of America.
This law particularly affects California. In 1962, the 143,562 different braceros employed in California were a majority of those imported into the United States. And even in Los Angeles County, 1380 foreign contract workers were employed in the peak month of May alone.
Victims of a program which takes dishonorable advantage of their desperation, Mexican Nationals are recruited under P.L. 78 with the result that American farm workers are displaced; a pool of captive, docile, readily-exploitable labor is created which adversely affects already depressed wages and working conditions of American farm workers; and a comparatively few bracero-users gain a competitive advantage over the small farmers (less that 8% of California's 99,000 farmers employ all the braceros in California).
Union organizers and community group representatives have all had the continual bitter experience of encountering farm families, single workers and youth striving to augment their meager earnings by increased days of work in each year. The latest statistics demonstrate that California farm workers, numbering into the hundred thousands, are seeking some of the benefits currently granted to braceros - minimum work period guarantees, transportation, housing - conditions which would help to meet their human needs and permit them to serve as a stable agricultural labor force.
We urge you to vote and use your influence in any actions which would let Public Law 78 expire on its termination date of December, 1963.
W. J. BASSETT