Abstract

The 1950s are often described as an anxious period in American history. Sometimes that anxiety was fed by fears about juvenile delinquency. In the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota, public apprehension was fueled also from an influx of Mexican people brought to the region by the rapidly expanding sugar beet industry. To address these perceived threats, state and local public officials, civic organizations, and the sugar industry launched a campaign to replace Mexican migrant laborers with local teenage workers. Hence, the number of Mexican people in the region would be reduced significantly, while teenagers were provided jobs that would keep them out of trouble. The Youth Beet Program (YBP) failed as a barrier to Mexican migrants; the teens simply could not produce as well as the migrants. The communities did believe the YBP helped discourage juvenile delinquent behavior. Therefore, the YBP functioned into the 1970s.

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