This paper investigates the conflicts between the conservative élite, workers’ organizations, and Mexican migrants in Arizona in the 1960s and 1970s when major confrontations occurred around the so-called ‘undocumented problem’. Through a labour history approach and the use of primary sources, this study returns the voice of seasonal workers, governors and Arizona’s Republican electoral body, union organizers and citizens, workers and anti-union associations. This article investigates, a) the role played by conservative political groups and southwestern capitalists in spreading anti-union and anti-migrant sentiments; b) the relation between status and contract in agricultural work; c) the recruitment and working conditions imposed on migrant workers; d) the political confrontation and conflicts that emerged between unions and migrant workers’ organizations in Arizona’s agricultural labour regime. In conclusion, although transnational organizing efforts led to success in labour confrontations, the exclusionary political practices against undocumented workers–like the wet line – resulted in the fragmentation of the ‘color line’ that ultimately exacerbated the frictions between farmworker unions and migrant workers.
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