The Secretary of State to the Secretary of the Treasury (Morgenthau)
My Dear Mr. Secretary: I have received a letter from the Director of Procurement of your Department, dated April 27, 1934,11 requesting the advice of this Department concerning the proper procedure to be followed in providing adequate and suitable housing accommodation for the United States Customs, Immigration, Public Health and Plant Quarantine services at this end of the International Bridge in El Paso, Texas.
Admiral Peoples refers in his letter to the previous steps that have been taken with a view to obtaining a solution of this problem and encloses a copy of H. E. 1731, introduced on March 9, 1933, by Representative Thomason of Texas, to authorize the Treasury Department to enter into a long term lease of a building to be erected at private expense in the Chamizal area of El Paso. He states that in view of the urgent need for better accommodations in El Paso for the services mentioned, your Department would appreciate early advice as to whether action should be further delayed pending a settlement by the International Boundary Commission, United States and Mexico, of the controversy as to national sovereignty in the Chamizal tract, or whether steps should be taken looking toward the acquisition of improved facilities through a lease arrangement similar to that proposed in H. R. 1731.
In reply I may say that there appears to be no prospect of an early settlement by agreement between the United States and Mexico of the question of territorial sovereignty over the Chamizal area. The considerations which prompted this Department in 1929 to request that the matter of the acquisition by the United States of title to the proposed building site in that area be held in abeyance12 therefore remain unchanged.[Page 480]
It is believed that similar considerations would not apply to the method of solving the problem suggested in H. R. 1731, as the contemplated transfer of the United States inspection services from the quarters which they now occupy under lease in the Chamizal tract to new leased quarters in a building to be constructed in that tract and owned by private parties would appear to entail no change in the international status of the area in question. Moreover, provision is in the Bill for the cancellation of the lease in the event that the lands leased shall be determined to be subject to the jurisdiction of Mexico. However, it is suggested that the private character of the building enterprise should be still further emphasized by the deletion from the Bill of paragraph (1) of Section one, which, of course, would involve also the deletion of the final clause of Section two. With these omissions the Department of State would perceive no objection to H. R. 1731 from the point of view of the international relations of the United States.