Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2017


This paper examines how colonialism and immigration policies define the citizenship of Puerto Rican farmworkers in relation to the immigration policies of guestwork. The Jones Act created in practice an ambiguous status for Puerto Rican migrants by granting U.S. citizenship to colonial subjects in a time when citizenship still meant being White and Anglophone. In addition, the importation of Mexican braceros tended to shape people’s perceptions of farmworkers as “foreign.” Puerto Ricans were and are constantly asked, challenged, and suspected by mainstream society of being “illegal aliens.” These perceptions had a lasting effect through World War II, the H-2 Program, and apple growers’ resistance to the use of Puerto Rican workers during the 1970s. The study of the formation of the Puerto Rican farm labor force offers a unique opportunity to explore how U.S. colonialism, the political economy of agriculture, and low-wage labor are related to projects of citizenship and immigration.


Originally published:

Garcia-Colon, Ismael. 2017. “‘We Like Mexican Laborers Better’: Citizenship and Immigration Policies in the Formation of Puerto Rican Farm Labor in the United States.” Centro Journal 29 (2): 134–71.



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