• Raising a flag over bracero soil

    March 9, 2018

    As of today, visible from the El Paso–Juárez horizon, a new flag stands as a marker for Rio Vista Farm, the last known standing bracero (Mexican guest-worker) processing site.

    Now on view through May 31, 2018, Unearthed: Desenterrado is the latest outdoor, site-specific installation by Texas-based artist Adriana Corral. Unearthed: Desenterrado is produced by Black Cube, a nomadic contemporary art museum, based in Denver, Colorado, and curated by Cortney Lane Stell.

    The solitary 60-foot flagpole hoists an enormous white, cotton flag that speaks to the deeply rooted history between the U.S. and Mexico—embroidered on one side by an illustration of a “Mexican” golden eagle and, on the other, an “American” bald eagle. During the three-month installation, the flag will become tattered and worn from its exposure to the elements. After its display in Socorro, Texas, Corral’s flag will be exhibited in museums and cultural institutions across the country.

    In a recent interview with Hyperallergic, Corral describes her approach:

    I’ve always had an interest in human rights, architecture and the type of facilities that housed people, humane or not. This project emphasizes the importance of recognizing and confronting the absences within our American history.

    The time I spent at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien residency in Germany exposed me to the complexities of history. When I saw the dilapidated buildings at Rio Vista they were hauntingly similar to the concentration camps.

    The decision to produce a flag from white cotton corresponds to its location. The Rio Vista Farm resides in the center of a cotton field. Mexican labors have been, and continue to be, a part of the very fabric of this country, along with others unrecognized. And the flagpole is located at the same place where welcome flags once stood.

    In recent years, a resurgence of interest in the U.S. government’s Bracero Program, in effect from 1942–1964, has resulted in new analysis, discourse, cultural practice, and heritage work surrounding the program. Following the National Trust’s Bracero History Summit onsite last year, this contemporary artwork marks another step towards raising awareness of the complex bracero experience at Rio Vista Farm—a place where close to 80,000 Mexican guest-workers annually were met with medical and psychological examinations, stripped of their clothing and fumigated with DDT before being bused across the U.S. to be hired as farmworkers in any one of the dozens of participating states.

  • 2017 Bracero History Summit, September 22 & 23

    July 31, 2017


    Thank you to everyone who already registered for the conference for the 2017 Bracero History Summit. The response has been overwhelming, and we are now at full capacity for Friday. Although it is no longer possible to register directly on our Eventbrite page, please email Sehila Casper at scasper@savingplaces.org should you like to attend Saturday’s event at Rio Vista Farm.

    Sí cambió la vida porque se hace uno más, más responsable...Es la vida, hay que valuarla como la va uno viviendo, así es esto.
    - Raúl Canela, former bracero

    About 2017 Bracero History Summit

    2017 marks the 75th anniversary of the 1942 U.S. Bracero Program executive order and the first group of braceros that entered through El Paso, Texas to work in the sugar beet harvest in Stockton, California. Though the program ended decades ago, millions of Mexican-Americans can trace their roots to their fathers' or grandfathers' entry into the U.S. as braceros.

    This September, the first ever national Bracero History Summit will be held in El Paso to honor this anniversary and to highlight nationally-significant yet relatively unknown bracero history. Presented by the National Trust, this event will be held in partnership with the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), the Smithsonian Institute, the City of Socorro, and Latinos in Heritage Conservation.

    When: Friday, September 22nd and Saturday, September 23rd

    Where: El Paso, Texas

    • Friday: UTEP Campus - Union Services Building East, 351 W. University Ave. El Paso, TX 79968
    • Saturday: Rio Vista Farm - Rio Vista Community Center, 901 Rio Vista Road, Socorro, TX 79927

    Who: Everyone is welcome! Living Braceros, Historians, Preservationists, Educators, Students, Researchers, Government Officials, Civil Rights Activists, Agricultural Groups, Families, and all interested people across the country.

    How to Attend: Space is limited, register today!

    Cost: Free and open to the public, though we do request that you register in advance.


    Join us for a rare and exciting opportunity to attend a two-day event that will bring multiple perspectives and presenters from across the country to explore the significance of the Bracero Program in the larger historical and contemporary narrative. Along with educational sessions, the summit will include an up-close tour of the ongoing preservation efforts at Rio Vista Farm in Socorro, Texas (outside of El Paso), a National Treasure and the last-known Bracero Reception and Processing site.

    In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in the Bracero Program that has resulted in contemporary analysis, discourse, cultural practice, and heritage work surrounding the 1942-1964 U.S. government program. Through a series of panel discussions, research presentations, a museum exhibit, and multi-media presentations to critically examine the Bracero Program. The 2017 Bracero History Summit will encourage critical consideration of a wide range of topics, including:

    • 75th year anniversary and program reflection
    • Personal accounts from living braceros
    • Contemporary analysis of farm workers, political and social issues, policy, worker rights, and transnational living
    • Place-based preservation work at the first U.S. contracting site, Rio Vista Farm
    • Identifying new research opportunities

    Friday, September 22 - UTEP Campus, El Paso, TX
    Union Services Building East, 351 W. University Ave. El Paso, TX 79968

    8:30 a.m. – Registration Opens
    9:00 a.m. – Welcome and Opening Session
    10:00 a.m. – Morning Educational and Panel Session
    12:30 p.m. – Lunch
    1:30 p.m. – Bracero Museum Exhibition
    2:50 p.m. – Bracero Documentary Short Film
    3:30 p.m. – Afternoon Educational and Panel Session
    5:00 p.m. – Facilitated Q&A
    5:30 p.m. - Closing Remarks and Future Work

    Saturday, September 23 – Rio Vista Farm, Socorro, TX
    Rio Vista Community Center, 901 Rio Vista Road, Socorro, TX 79927

    10:00 a.m. – Welcome
    10:00 a.m. – Accounts from Former Braceros
    10:45 a.m. – Contemporary Context of Migrant Farmworkers
    11:30 a.m. – Historic Walking Tour
    12:30 p.m. – Lunch
    1:30 p.m. - Closing Remarks

    “¿Usted como se siente que le digan bracero?”
    “¡Uh! Me siento muy bien, muy bien, porque no entré de malandrín ni a robar, ni – entré a trabajar y como trabajador salí, y volví a entrar, y sigo igual, en la misma.”
    - Antonio Olivares Samaniego, former bracero


    We have a special discount price of $109 at the Hilton Garden Inn located at the entrance to the University of Texas El Paso campus, and just a short walk to the UTEP Union Services building.

    Hilton Garden Inn El Paso / University
    111 W University Ave, El Paso, TX 79902 US
    Rate: $109 +tax per night

    Reservations: (915) 351-2121

    When making your hotel reservation online use the Bracero History Summit Group Code: UNTHP

    Discount price is for Sep 21 - Sep 24, 2017
    Group Cut Off Date: August 20

    Interviews, Videotaping, and Photography Policy

    Please note that this summit may be photo documented and videotaped for later use. As a result, all individuals attending this event may be videotaped. By attending this event you hereby give the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the University of Texas at El Paso permission to record or photograph you and grant all rights to use them in electronic, social, and print media and communication for public or internal purpose in support of both institution’s mission. You also hereby waive any rights to compensation and agree that all rights to video and images the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the University of Texas at El Paso. Should you have questions about this policy, please email us at scasper@savingplaces.org.

    Sponsorship Opportunities

    We still have presenting sponsorship opportunities available! The Bracero History Summit is a unique and customizable event with exposure to a notable audience through various sponsorship and in-kind opportunities such as an evening reception, transportation, or hosted lunch. For more information, please contact Sehila Mota Casper at scasper@savingplaces.org or 832.871.5258.

    Questions? ¿Preguntas?

    Please contact Sehila Mota Casper, Field Officer, National Trust for Historic Preservation, scasper@savingplaces.org.
    Información disponible en español. Por favor comunicarse con Sehila Mota Casper, scasper@savingplaces.org.

  • Share your Bracero story! ¡Comparte tu historia de bracero!

    March 6, 2017

    (Continúa en español abajo)

    The National Trust for Historic Preservation is dedicated to preserving the complex history of Rio Vista Farm in Socorro, Texas—the last known bracero processing site to be left standing. Through September 2017, we are calling for first- and second-hand accounts of the immigrant experience at Rio Vista Farm. Individuals who entered the Bracero Program, also known as the Mexican Farm Labor Program, through Rio Vista Farm or are in any way familiar with processing and contracting procedures at the site during the 1950s and 1960s are encouraged to share their stories.

    For decades, the enduring contributions and difficult stories of the Bracero Program, the nation's largest experiment with guest workers, have been underrepresented and overlooked. Rio Vista Farm and its history presents new opportunities to explore the founding link shared by modern Mexican-American communities across the country. Along with support from scholars, city officials, community members, and other local partners and stakeholders, the stories we receive will raise awareness of Rio Vista Farm’s role during the Bracero Program. Rio Vista Farm has much to teach us about the need to preserve and promote a greater understanding and appreciation of America’s diverse and complex history, including: immigration; citizenship; nationalism; agriculture; labor practices; race relations; gender; and the Cold War era.

    We invite you to share your story below and help us learn more about this side of American history. Oral histories will be recorded and cataloged for future use at the Rio Vista Community Center—and findings will be presented at the Bracero History Summit in September 2017.

    In addition to your personal story, we are also collecting copies of photographs, bracero contracts and documents that will allow us to understand the Bracero Program at Rio Vista Farm.

    Please complete the form below to share your stories and comments— or call (832) 871-5258. Thank you for helping us save and interpret Rio Vista Farm, a National Treasure!

    El National Trust for Historic Preservation está dedicado a preservar la compleja historia de Rio Vista Farm en Socorro, Texas—reconocido como el último sitio de procesamiento de braceros que sigue de pie. Hasta septiembre de 2017, estamos solicitando historias de primera y segunda mano sobre la experiencia inmigrante en Rio Vista Farm. Motivamos a las personas que ingresaron a los Estados Unidos por el Programa Bracero a través de Rio Vista Farm o están de alguna manera familiarizados con los procedimientos de procesamiento y contratación en el sitio durante los años de los 1950s y 1960s que compartan sus historias.

    Por décadas, las contribuciones duraderas e historias difíciles del Programa Bracero, el experimento más grande de trabajadores invitados en los Estados Unidos, han sido sub-representadas y pasadas por alto. Rio Vista Farm y su historia presenta nuevas oportunidades para explorar el vínculo fundacional compartido por las comunidades modernas mexicano-americanas en todo el país. Junto con el apoyo de académicos, funcionarios de la ciudad, miembros de la comunidad y otros compañeros locales e interesados, las historias que recibimos aumentarán la conciencia sobre el papel de Rio Vista Farm durante el Programa Bracero. Rio Vista Farm tiene mucho que enseñarnos sobre la necesidad de preservar y promover una mayor comprensión y apreciación de la diversa y compleja historia de Estados Unidos, incluyendo: inmigración; ciudadanía; nacionalismo; agricultura; prácticas laborales; relaciones raciales; género; y la era de la Guerra Fría.

    Te invitamos a compartir tu historia abajo y ayudarnos a aprender más sobre este aspecto de la historia estadounidense. Las historias compartidas serán registradas y catalogadas para uso futuro en el Rio Vista Community Center—y los hallazgos serán presentados en la Cumbre de Historia de Braceros que se llevará a cabo en septiembre de 2017.

    Además de historias personales, también estamos recopilando copias de fotografías, contratos de braceros y documentos que nos permitirán entender el Programa Bracero en Rio Vista Farm.

    Por favor complete el formulario abajo para compartir sus historias y comentarios—o llame al (832) 871-5258. ¡Gracias por ayudarnos a salvar e interpretar Rio Vista Farm, un Tesoro Nacional!

    Your Story / Tu Historia

  • Rio Vista Farm Announced as National Treasure

    September 19, 2016

    Rio Vista Farm on  Announcement Day

    On Saturday, Rio Vista Farm in Socorro, Texas (just outside El Paso) was announced as our newest National Treasure as a prelude to the Chile War Festival.

    Local news coverage of the announcement emphasized re-use of the site to meet community needs:

    There are ideas floating around on how Rio Vista Farm could be used in the future. Some want a library, while others want recreational space. The NTHP wants to work with the community to better gauge of what's wanted.

    "The overall aim of our project and involvement is to help save the site," said Sehila Mota Casper, a field officer for the NTHP. "We want to envision a place that the community wants to come and use."

    Read more about the announcement — and check out a photo gallery — via the El Paso Times: Socorro's Rio Vista Farm named National Treasure.

    More stories about the announcement:

    El Paso Inc: Rio Vista Farm declared a ‘National Treasure’
    EL Paso Herald-Post: Socorro’s Rio Vista Farm named National Treasure

    Además, varios medios en español también cubrieron el anuncio:

    El Diario de El Paso: Designan tesoro nacional a histórica Granja Río Vista
    Agencia EFE: Sitio para braceros mexicanos es designado tesoro nacional
    Notimex: Tesoro Nacional sitio que albergó a campesinos mexicanos en EUA

All 4 updates

Announcing the 2020 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

See the List