811.504/984: Airgram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Mexico ( Messersmith )

A–939. Reference is made to the Embassy’s telegrams nos. 985 and 21 of January 4 and 8, 1943, respectively, and to the telephone conversation between Messrs. Bursley86 and MacLean87 on January 14 regarding the securing of agricultural workers in Mexico under the agreement of August 4, 1942.88

Major Walker of the Farm Security Administration89 has now informed the Department of the following after 2 days of conference with officials of the War Manpower Commission and after checking with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

It is understood that the total of 3,000 workers certified for the California beet growers in lots of 1,500 each on September 3 and September 26, respectively, can be maintained in California by selecting and contracting additional workers to replace losses by return of workers to Mexico. This total can be maintained without further certification until March 1, 1943 and it is subject to extension on or before that date if the United States Employment Service certifies as to the continued need for this group of workers.
Arrangements have been made to permit the use of contingents of the 3,000 mentioned above for other crops than beets, for example for citrus fruits, which would permit the immediate selecting of 250 workers for citrus crops, or other similar contingents, provided the total number in the United States does not exceed the total of 3,000. [Page 533] Major Walker says that Mr. Hewes90 has been instructed to clear this matter with Mr. Brown91 in Mexico City.
On October 8, 1942 there was a certification of 2,000 workers for Arizona cotton and 500 workers for vegetable crops at Yuma, Arizona. The 2,000 certification expired on December 1, 1942, and no workers were nor can be now supplied under this certification. Approximately 451 workers have been supplied for Yuma, and although the certification contained no time clause, Immigration92 said that no further workers should be selected under this certification. On January 15, however, Immigration called to reverse this point, and state that 49 can be recruited now and that the 500 total can be maintained in the United States until further notice without further certification.
On October 28, 1942, there was a certification for 1,800 workers for the Imperial Valley. Some 733 of these workers were contracted in November, and it is the Department’s understanding that the balance of approximately 1,000 workers has been selected and contracted in recent days. This certification is on a different basis. It permits maintaining the workers in the United States for 90 days from the date of entrance.
At present under consideration by the United States Employment Service of the War Manpower Commission are certifications from its field representative for 300 workers for Kern County, California, 700 for the State of Arizona, and 10,500 for unspecified crops in California. Major Walker states that he has reason to believe that the first two certifications will be endorsed during the next few days and forwarded to Immigration, together with 3,000 of the workers specified in the last certification, the balance to await the receipt here in Washington of the detailed report from the USES93 field representative.
In regard to the 1943 estimate for workers, contained in the Department’s telegram no. 1 of January 1, 1943, and the subject of the Embassy’s telegram no. 9, Major Walker states that the June and July contingents marked for return to Mexico can be ignored, and that he believes there will be no difficulty in absorbing these workers.
In regard to the guayule workers, Major Walker states that studies are being made to determine the peak times of need in this field with the idea of being able to meet peak demands by shifting of off-season surpluses of workers from New Mexico and Arizona. Such a shifting would help to take care of any surplus from the adjustment mentioned in 6 above. Major Walker is not able to make a definite statement on the guayule workers until the studies mentioned above [Page 534] are completed, and likewise lacks specific information regarding long staple cotton workers.
The victory tax, referred to in your telegram no. 21, has been held not to be applicable to workers brought in, Major Walker states, but he does not yet have an opinion as to whether the California state compensation tax is applicable.

Major Walker has promised to keep the Department informed on developments in regard to the points listed above, and this information will be promptly forwarded to the Embassy.

He also suggests that the Embassy may wish to mention informally to Mr. Hidalgo94 of the Foreign Office the desirability of increasing the amounts withheld for savings to be returned to Mexico. He feels that many of the workers are spending their earnings freely on nonessentials and that it would be to their interests to have more savings at their disposition upon return to Mexico. The Department perceives no objection to this suggestion.

Immigration on January 15 further clarified the question of replacements by stating (a) that replacements could be contracted only for unexpired period of certification. Those in 2 above, for example, can be given contracts expiring March 1; those in 4 above for any remaining period of the 90 days from entry of the contingent workers of which are being replaced. For example, if the Farm Security Administration wishes to replace any losses from the contingent of 733 contracted in November, the contracts given replacement workers would be for the unexpired portion of 90 days counted from the date of entry of the original 733. Any replacements under the 1,000 just contracted under the same certification, however, would be contractable for the unexpired portion of 90 days counted from January 14 or 15, the day in which it is presumed they would enter the United States. (b) Future certification is expected to be on one definite time basis, similar to that explained in 1 and 2 above, (c) Replacements will need new global entry permits from Immigration (but not new certification), (d) Immigration will telephone new information regarding certifications directly to the Department.

  1. Not printed, but see footnote 83, p. 531.
  2. Herbert S. Bursley, Counselor of Embassy in Mexico.
  3. W. G. MacLean of the Division of the American Republics.
  4. For correspondence on the negotiation of the agreement, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. vi, pp. 537 ff. For text of the agreement, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 278, or 56 Stat. (pt. 2) 1759.
  5. Maj. John O. Walker, Assistant Administrator.
  6. Lawrence I. Hewes, Regional Director, Farm Security Administration.
  7. Harry F. Brown, Representative of the Farm Security Administration in Mexico City.
  8. The Immigration and Naturalization Service.
  9. United States Employment Service.
  10. Ernesto Hidalgo, Oficial Mayor of the Mexican Ministry for Foreign Affairs.