The Bracero Program brought Mexicans to the United States to work on large farms in the southwest in August 1942. They were temporary contract workers, and many later returned home. However, about 350,000 settled permanently in the United States.
A bracero (from brazo, the Spanish word for arm) was a Mexican worker allowed entry into the United States for a limited time, usually to work on a farm. In 1942, facing an extreme shortage of farm labor workers due to the war, Congress enacted the Emergency Labor Program. It approved the temporary immigration of thousands of Mexican workers to replace the American men who were in the armed services. During the 22 years of the Bracero Program, more than 4 million Mexican workers left their families behind and came to work in the fields of California, Arizona and then most of the nation. This migration had an enormous and lasting impact on the economy and demographics of California.