During World War II, US citizens often left their previous jobs to work in the war industry, creating weapons, vehicles, and other necessities. Other citizens left to fight, leading to a large decrease in the US workforce. The companies that provided essentials and food thus had a shortage of workers. Americans saw Mexico as a resource because it had a large population that would demand low-pay. Some Americans campaigned for Mexicans to come to the US as substitute workers. The campaign became the Bracero Program, also known as the Emergency Labor Program. The US government promised to hire Mexicans and give them food and shelter if they would work for the US. These lucrative deals and promises caused Mexicans to flock into the US in huge groups on trains and buses.
At first, many white residents were anxious since there would be increased competition for jobs. There was also a fear of Mexicans bringing higher levels of crime, poverty, and inner-city overcrowding. However, some Americans supported Mexican rights and helped the immigrants in the Bracero Program. This deal appeared beneficial to everyone because the US received substitute workers, and the Mexicans received pay. In fact, bracero means "laborer" in Spanish. However, despite the promises made by the US, the Mexicans were treated unfairly and the promised conditions were seldom honored. The Mexicans were often denied their pay or beaten by their employers.