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Floydada Farmer has Helped More Than 100 ... - MyWeb

VIEWS: 3 PAGES: 7

									         Floydada	
  Farmer	
  has	
  Helped	
  More	
  Than	
  100	
  Employees	
  Obtain	
  Legal	
  

                                                           Residency	
  


	
          Don	
  Marble	
  has	
  been	
  farming	
  for	
  more	
  than	
  60	
  years.	
  In	
  that	
  time,	
  he	
  has	
  

done	
  more	
  than	
  just	
  produce	
  crops;	
  he	
  has	
  helped	
  better	
  the	
  lives	
  of	
  hundreds	
  of	
  

people.	
  


	
          Since	
  1951,	
  Don	
  and	
  his	
  two	
  brothers,	
  Keith	
  and	
  Fred,	
  have	
  owned	
  and	
  

operated	
  Marble	
  Brothers	
  Farms	
  in	
  South	
  Plains,	
  Texas.	
  


	
          In	
  his	
  career	
  as	
  a	
  farmer,	
  Don	
  has	
  helped	
  more	
  than	
  100	
  of	
  his	
  employees	
  

become	
  legal	
  residents	
  or	
  U.S.	
  citizens.	
  	
  


	
          “When	
  we	
  started	
  farming	
  we	
  only	
  had	
  200	
  acres	
  of	
  land,”	
  Don	
  said.	
  “Over	
  a	
  

period	
  of	
  years	
  we	
  had	
  about	
  800	
  or	
  900	
  acres	
  and	
  needed	
  help.”	
  


	
          Don	
  said	
  there	
  was	
  a	
  government	
  program	
  that	
  the	
  brothers	
  started	
  working	
  

with	
  in	
  1952	
  called	
  the	
  Bracero	
  Program.	
  The	
  program	
  allowed	
  contracted	
  laborers	
  

from	
  Mexico	
  to	
  come	
  to	
  west	
  Texas	
  to	
  work	
  in	
  the	
  cotton	
  fields.	
  The	
  program	
  was	
  

widely	
  used	
  across	
  the	
  U.S.	
  


	
          “Mexican	
  peasants	
  are	
  basically	
  what	
  they	
  were,”	
  Don	
  said.	
  “But	
  they	
  knew	
  

how	
  to	
  handle	
  themselves	
  and	
  they	
  were	
  very	
  polite.	
  We	
  had	
  40	
  or	
  50	
  of	
  them.	
  They	
  

were	
  great	
  workers	
  and	
  very	
  smart	
  people.”	
  


	
          When	
  the	
  Bracero	
  Program	
  ended	
  in	
  the	
  late	
  1950s,	
  Don	
  said	
  it	
  put	
  Marble	
  

Brothers	
  in	
  a	
  bind	
  for	
  labor.	
  	
  
	
          “For	
  a	
  number	
  of	
  years,	
  we	
  worked	
  with	
  just	
  anybody	
  we	
  could	
  get,”	
  Don	
  

said.	
  “But	
  they	
  were	
  very	
  unlearned	
  and	
  unskilled	
  people,	
  nothing	
  like	
  the	
  

Braceros.”	
  


	
          Eventually,	
  the	
  Braceros	
  began	
  making	
  their	
  way	
  back	
  into	
  Texas	
  illegally	
  to	
  

find	
  work	
  and	
  Don	
  and	
  his	
  brothers	
  began	
  hiring	
  them	
  again.	
  


	
          “They	
  were	
  smart	
  people,	
  very	
  good	
  people	
  and	
  very	
  hard	
  workers,”	
  Don	
  

said.	
  “People	
  thought	
  they	
  were	
  just	
  peasants	
  who	
  didn’t	
  ever	
  have	
  a	
  chance	
  to	
  go	
  to	
  

school,	
  but	
  they	
  worked	
  harder	
  than	
  the	
  people	
  did	
  in	
  the	
  U.S.	
  Lots	
  of	
  people	
  used	
  

Braceros,	
  there	
  just	
  wasn’t	
  anybody	
  else	
  like	
  them	
  to	
  do	
  the	
  job.”	
  


	
          Don	
  said	
  occasionally	
  the	
  border	
  patrol	
  would	
  take	
  the	
  workers	
  back	
  to	
  

Mexico,	
  but	
  they	
  would	
  always	
  find	
  a	
  way	
  back	
  as	
  quick	
  as	
  they	
  could.	
  He	
  said	
  they	
  

were	
  getting	
  paid	
  ten	
  times	
  as	
  much	
  as	
  they	
  could	
  in	
  Mexico.	
  	
  


	
          “I	
  think	
  we	
  promised	
  them	
  five	
  dollars	
  a	
  day,”	
  Don	
  said.	
  “We	
  would	
  have	
  paid	
  

anything	
  back,	
  but	
  we	
  wanted	
  Braceros	
  because	
  they	
  were	
  available,	
  willing	
  to	
  work	
  

and	
  partially	
  trained.”	
  


	
          The	
  workers	
  sent	
  most	
  of	
  their	
  money	
  home	
  to	
  Mexico	
  to	
  care	
  for	
  their	
  

families,	
  said	
  Don.	
  	
  


	
          “That	
  was	
  a	
  tremendous	
  economic	
  asset	
  to	
  Mexico,	
  to	
  have	
  the	
  American	
  

dollars	
  coming	
  back,”	
  Don	
  said.	
  “It	
  really	
  raised	
  the	
  standard	
  of	
  living	
  for	
  their	
  

families.”	
  
	
         Don	
  said	
  that	
  back	
  then,	
  there	
  was	
  not	
  a	
  legal	
  issue	
  with	
  undocumented	
  

workers.	
  


	
         “They	
  didn’t	
  really	
  cause	
  any	
  problems	
  for	
  us,”	
  Don	
  said.	
  “The	
  legal	
  system	
  

didn’t	
  ever	
  concern	
  themselves	
  with	
  us.”	
  


	
         After	
  an	
  employee	
  worked	
  for	
  Marble	
  Brothers	
  for	
  an	
  extended	
  period	
  of	
  

time,	
  Don	
  said	
  he	
  would	
  help	
  them	
  get	
  their	
  papers	
  to	
  become	
  legal	
  residents	
  or	
  U.S.	
  

citizens.	
  


	
         “If	
  they	
  were	
  a	
  good	
  hand	
  and	
  they	
  wanted	
  to	
  work	
  for	
  me	
  for	
  a	
  while,	
  I’d	
  

help	
  them	
  get	
  their	
  papers	
  and	
  their	
  green	
  cards,”	
  Don	
  said.	
  “We	
  had	
  the	
  help	
  of	
  

lawyers	
  and	
  the	
  Catholic	
  church,	
  which	
  is	
  still	
  a	
  big	
  player.	
  I’ve	
  probably	
  helped	
  a	
  

hundred	
  people	
  or	
  so.”	
  


	
         Don	
  said	
  one	
  particular	
  worker	
  stands	
  out	
  in	
  his	
  mind.	
  A	
  man	
  named	
  Nicolas	
  

came	
  to	
  work	
  for	
  Marble	
  Brothers	
  as	
  a	
  Bracero	
  plowing	
  cotton.	
  He	
  said	
  when	
  

Nicolas’	
  contract	
  ran	
  out,	
  he	
  went	
  back	
  to	
  Mexico	
  and	
  came	
  back	
  to	
  work	
  on	
  another	
  

contract	
  in	
  Brownsville,	
  Texas.	
  


	
         “He	
  wrote	
  us	
  a	
  letter	
  and	
  told	
  us	
  where	
  he	
  was,”	
  Don	
  said.	
  “So	
  whenever	
  he	
  

finished	
  his	
  contract,	
  we	
  went	
  down	
  and	
  got	
  him	
  to	
  come	
  work	
  for	
  us.”	
  


	
         Don	
  said	
  when	
  they	
  had	
  a	
  chance	
  they	
  helped	
  Nicolas	
  get	
  his	
  papers	
  to	
  

become	
  a	
  U.S.	
  citizen	
  and	
  he	
  worked	
  for	
  Marble	
  Brothers	
  for	
  more	
  than	
  40	
  years.	
  


	
         “He	
  was	
  a	
  main	
  man,”	
  Don	
  said.	
  “He	
  was	
  hard	
  working	
  and	
  had	
  a	
  good	
  family	
  

and	
  taught	
  them	
  the	
  value	
  of	
  work.”	
  
	
          Don	
  said	
  many	
  of	
  his	
  hired	
  hands	
  became	
  leaders	
  and	
  were	
  able	
  to	
  teach	
  

others.	
  He	
  said	
  their	
  sons	
  and	
  daughters	
  would	
  grow	
  up	
  to	
  get	
  better	
  jobs	
  as	
  

construction	
  workers,	
  auto	
  mechanics	
  or	
  secretaries.	
  


	
          From	
  1974	
  to	
  1984,	
  Don	
  said	
  he	
  and	
  his	
  brothers	
  had	
  more	
  than	
  25,000	
  

acres	
  of	
  land	
  and	
  ran	
  a	
  cotton	
  gin	
  in	
  South	
  Plains.	
  He	
  said	
  during	
  that	
  time	
  they	
  had	
  

40	
  or	
  more	
  hired	
  hands	
  at	
  a	
  time,	
  and	
  most	
  of	
  them	
  were	
  from	
  Mexico.	
  


	
          “I’ve	
  always	
  said	
  that	
  people	
  who	
  have	
  labor	
  problems	
  had	
  management	
  

problems,”	
  Don	
  said.	
  “There’s	
  good	
  people	
  out	
  there	
  and	
  if	
  you’re	
  willing	
  to	
  pay	
  

them	
  and	
  treat	
  them	
  right,	
  you	
  can	
  find	
  people	
  willing	
  to	
  work.”	
  


	
          Don	
  said	
  he	
  only	
  has	
  eight	
  hired	
  hands	
  now	
  and	
  all	
  of	
  them	
  are	
  legal	
  

residents	
  or	
  U.S.	
  citizens.	
  He	
  said	
  with	
  the	
  laws	
  these	
  days,	
  he	
  could	
  get	
  in	
  trouble	
  

and	
  be	
  fined	
  or	
  sent	
  to	
  prison	
  for	
  working	
  people	
  illegally.	
  


	
          “There’s	
  enough	
  people	
  around	
  here	
  legally	
  now	
  that	
  we	
  can	
  have	
  only	
  legal	
  

people	
  working	
  for	
  us,”	
  Don	
  said.	
  


	
          Marble	
  Brothers	
  has	
  had	
  many	
  employees	
  work	
  for	
  them	
  for	
  40	
  years	
  or	
  

more	
  Don	
  said.	
  


	
          “We’ve	
  always	
  taken	
  real	
  good	
  care	
  of	
  our	
  people,”	
  Don	
  said.	
  “If	
  they	
  get	
  sick	
  

or	
  injured,	
  I	
  see	
  to	
  it	
  that	
  we	
  take	
  care	
  of	
  them.	
  They	
  want	
  to	
  work	
  for	
  us	
  and	
  we	
  are	
  

sure	
  to	
  pay	
  them	
  real	
  well.”	
  
	
              Don	
  has	
  been	
  married	
  to	
  his	
  wife,	
  Nancy	
  for	
  45	
  years.	
  They	
  have	
  one	
  

daughter,	
  Donnette	
  and	
  one	
  son,	
  Brett.	
  Nancy	
  said	
  she	
  has	
  had	
  personal	
  

relationships	
  with	
  her	
  husband’s	
  hired	
  hands.	
  


	
              “Most	
  of	
  them	
  were	
  more	
  like	
  family	
  than	
  anything,”	
  Nancy	
  said.	
  “Some	
  of	
  the	
  

girls	
  have	
  helped	
  us	
  here	
  and	
  babysat	
  and	
  we’ve	
  known	
  them	
  all	
  pretty	
  well	
  and	
  

anything	
  they	
  needed	
  we’ve	
  tried	
  to	
  get	
  it	
  for	
  them.”	
  


	
              Nancy	
  said	
  when	
  families	
  work	
  for	
  them	
  for	
  40	
  years	
  or	
  more,	
  their	
  

relationships	
  become	
  more	
  like	
  that	
  of	
  a	
  close	
  neighbor.	
  


	
              “If	
  they	
  had	
  kids	
  that	
  got	
  married,	
  or	
  their	
  daughters	
  had	
  quinceaneras,	
  we	
  

attended	
  those	
  as	
  well	
  as	
  family	
  funerals,”	
  Nancy	
  said.	
  “If	
  they	
  had	
  babies,	
  we	
  

provided	
  gifts.”	
  


	
              Nancy	
  said	
  her	
  kids	
  benefitted	
  from	
  the	
  close	
  relationships	
  with	
  their	
  hired	
  

hands	
  because	
  they	
  went	
  to	
  school	
  with	
  their	
  kids	
  and	
  worked	
  on	
  the	
  farm	
  with	
  

them.	
  	
  


	
              They	
  did	
  not	
  know	
  any	
  different	
  and	
  it	
  taught	
  her	
  kids	
  to	
  accept	
  anyone	
  and	
  

they	
  were	
  cultured	
  by	
  their	
  experiences,	
  Nancy	
  said.	
  She	
  also	
  said	
  her	
  son	
  learned	
  to	
  

speak	
  Spanish	
  fluently.	
  


	
              “The	
  kids	
  never	
  knew	
  anything	
  other	
  than	
  having	
  those	
  families	
  and	
  children	
  

around	
  and	
  they	
  were	
  all	
  in	
  school	
  together,”	
  Nancy	
  said.	
  
	
           The	
  couple’s	
  niece,	
  Cindy	
  Marble	
  is	
  the	
  daughter	
  of	
  Don’s	
  late	
  brother,	
  Fred	
  

Marble.	
  Cindy	
  grew	
  up	
  in	
  South	
  Plains	
  and	
  now	
  lives	
  in	
  the	
  nearby	
  town	
  of	
  Floydada,	
  

Texas.	
  


	
           Cindy	
  said	
  she	
  grew	
  up	
  with	
  her	
  dad	
  and	
  uncle’s	
  hired	
  hands	
  on	
  the	
  farm	
  and	
  

that	
  was	
  all	
  she	
  knew.	
  She	
  said	
  she	
  never	
  judged	
  them	
  for	
  their	
  race	
  or	
  background	
  

because	
  her	
  parents	
  treated	
  them	
  like	
  family.	
  


	
           “My	
  school	
  in	
  South	
  Plains	
  was	
  very	
  small.	
  Everyone	
  who	
  went	
  to	
  school	
  

there	
  either	
  had	
  parents	
  who	
  farmed	
  in	
  South	
  Plains	
  or	
  worked	
  for	
  a	
  farmer,”	
  Cindy	
  

said.	
  “I	
  went	
  to	
  school	
  with	
  the	
  same	
  kids	
  I	
  saw	
  working	
  with	
  Daddy	
  in	
  the	
  field.”	
  


	
           Cindy	
  said	
  she	
  remembers	
  going	
  to	
  school	
  with	
  a	
  girl	
  whose	
  parents	
  never	
  

had	
  the	
  chance	
  to	
  go	
  to	
  school	
  because	
  they	
  were	
  Braceros.	
  The	
  girl	
  would	
  go	
  home	
  

at	
  night	
  and	
  teacher	
  them	
  everything	
  she	
  learned	
  that	
  day,	
  ultimately	
  giving	
  her	
  

parents	
  the	
  only	
  education	
  they	
  ever	
  received.	
  


	
           “All	
  those	
  kids	
  I	
  went	
  to	
  school	
  with	
  eventually	
  went	
  on	
  to	
  have	
  a	
  pretty	
  good	
  

life	
  and	
  get	
  better	
  jobs,”	
  Cindy	
  said.	
  “Their	
  parents	
  really	
  did	
  all	
  they	
  could	
  to	
  make	
  a	
  

better	
  life	
  for	
  their	
  kids.”	
  


	
           Cindy	
  said	
  she	
  credits	
  her	
  dad	
  and	
  uncles	
  for	
  changing	
  so	
  many	
  lives.	
  


	
           “They	
  all	
  did	
  everything	
  they	
  could	
  to	
  take	
  good	
  care	
  of	
  their	
  workers,”	
  Cindy	
  

said.	
  “It’s	
  people	
  like	
  them	
  who	
  allow	
  people	
  to	
  live	
  the	
  American	
  dream.”	
  


	
  
	
  


	
  


	
  


Service	
  Journalism:	
  


History	
  of	
  the	
  Bracero	
  Program:	
  


	
         •	
  The	
  Bracero	
  Program	
  was	
  based	
  on	
  a	
  series	
  of	
  agreements	
  between	
  Mexico	
  

and	
  the	
  U.S.	
  and	
  allowed	
  millions	
  of	
  Mexican	
  men	
  to	
  come	
  to	
  the	
  U.S.	
  to	
  work	
  on	
  

short-­‐term,	
  primarily	
  agricultural	
  labor	
  contracts.	
  


	
         •	
  From	
  1942	
  to	
  1964,	
  4.6	
  million	
  contracts	
  were	
  signed,	
  with	
  many	
  workers	
  

returning	
  several	
  times	
  on	
  multiple	
  contracts.	
  


	
         •	
  The	
  Bracero	
  Program	
  was	
  the	
  largest	
  U.S.	
  contract	
  labor	
  program.	
  


	
         •	
  The	
  program	
  was	
  created	
  by	
  executive	
  order	
  because	
  many	
  growers	
  argued	
  

that	
  World	
  War	
  II	
  would	
  bring	
  labor	
  shortages	
  to	
  low-­‐paying	
  farm	
  jobs.	
  


	
         •	
  The	
  program	
  guaranteed	
  payment	
  of	
  at	
  least	
  the	
  prevailing	
  area	
  wage	
  

received	
  by	
  native	
  workers,	
  employment	
  for	
  three-­‐fourths	
  of	
  the	
  contract	
  period,	
  

adequate	
  and	
  sanitary	
  housing,	
  meals,	
  occupational	
  insurance	
  and	
  transportation	
  

back	
  to	
  Mexico	
  all	
  at	
  the	
  employer’s	
  expense.	
  


Source:	
  http://braceroarchive.org/	
  


	
  

								
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