Architectural Intern / Historic Preservation Technician

Website Heritage Documentation Programs National Park Service

 The selected intern will work with a team of permanent staff architects to produce measured drawing documentation of the Processing Center or other historic structure at the Rio Vista Farm in Socorro, Texas. Travel from Washington, DC, to El Paso and a per diem for five days to undertake the field work will be covered by the Historic American Buildings Survey.

The site, originally a 14-acre farm built in 1915 to shelter El Paso County’s indigents and orphans, became a processing center for more than 80,000 braceros per year. In 1942, the United States reached an agreement with Mexico to establish the Bracero Program, which brought Mexican workers known as braceros (“strong arms”) into the U.S. on a temporary basis to better domestic farm-labor shortages. From 1951-64 the site was associated with the Mexican Farm Labor Program, the “largest single temporary alien worker program” ever undertaken by the United States. The Braceros played a vitally important role in the nation’s agricultural economy in the postwar era, comprising nearly a quarter of US agricultural workers by 1959. The program greatly enhanced the profitability of the US agribusiness sector, providing a steady, reliable supply of highly-skilled farmworkers at relatively low wages and permitting expansion of certain crop sectors. In 2016 the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the site a National Treasure and has since provided financial support for the preservation and interpretation of the site. In 2019, the National Park Service made the site a National Historic Landmark. The Rio Vista nomination will now make its way to the National Park System Advisory Board and then to the Secretary of the Interior’s desk for final designation.

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