The 19-foot-tall bronze statue of a Mexican migrant and his family will be standing on a pedestal near the downtown Los Angeles spot where the city was founded. It is to honor the migrants, known as braceros, that helped make the city what it is now, CNN reported.
Braceros — which comes from brazo, the Spanish word for arm — were manual laborers who came to the United States from Mexico under a government program that started in 1942 and ended in 1964, according to the Bracero History Archive.
“My father was a bracero,” Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar told CNN. “All my uncles were braceros. And they tell me many stories of the time they would come. They tell me about the sacrifices they made, sometimes they would go without water during the day, the barracks they put them in, terrible barracks, the living conditions were horrible. But despite these sacrifices, they were appreciative of the opportunity, because they were able to get a little money, [and] send it back to their families.”
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Dan Medina is one of the artists working on the sculpture. He said he feels a particular connection to the artwork because his stepfather was a bracero.
“My stepfather, who pretty much raised me and taught me the work ethic and everything I am today, he was a bracero,” Medina told CNN. The sculpture also signifies “being able to talk about the immigrant, their contributions then, and now, and tomorrow.”
Los Angeles’ decision to commission and place the monument is directly in the face of a fight between California and the federal government. Many districts in California believe that the White House is going too far in cracking down on illegal and legal immigration to the United States.
However, paying for and making the statue has been years in the making, long before President Donald Trump took office, Huizar told CNN.
“We’re now sending a message, despite what the president’s doing, we’re moving forward,” he said. “You can have your rhetoric that is anti-immigrant, that is counter to what the city of Los Angeles believes in. We’re moving forward as a city of immigrants, proud of our roots.”