The Ambassador in Mexico ( Messersmith ) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 15—1:23 a.m.]
473. Tello informed Bursley this evening that Mexican Government was prepared to expedite recruiting of labor for the United States if that would be of assistance to us. He also said that he believed the Mexican Government in consonance with its desire to cooperate with us would, if necessary, permit the recruiting under the agreement of a greater number of workers than is now envisaged. He went on to say that the impression prevails generally throughout [Page 551] the Mexican Government that if indiscriminate recruiting such as that recently begun along the border, particularly in the vicinity of Juarez, were to continue, the existing agreement would come to an end for the reasons that (1) it would have no significance and (2) there would be no point in the Mexican Government continuing the present expenditure of money and effort involved in the examination and recruiting of workers.
Tello did not indicate that his statements were in confidence but I do not think they should be used except in United States Government circles. Publicity of the statements would do no good and might cause friction over a matter which is already sufficiently difficult and delicate.
In my opinion the feeling of the Mexican Government is considerably stronger than it permits itself to express at this juncture when it still hopes we can solve the problem. I do not think there is the slightest doubt that if through domestic laws and regulations we undermine an international agreement such as that permitting us to recruit labor here under conditions, the Mexican Government will be justifiably indignant and will denounce the agreement. Moreover there is no doubt that the Mexican Government will intensify the measures which we understand from border sources have already been introduced to prevent the exodus of laborers whose departure from Mexico is not authorized. If the advocates of breaking down border controls persist in their present policy and actions they will defeat their own purposes because of the extreme likelihood that the number of laborers from Mexico to the United States will be reduced to a mere trickle regardless of whether high or low wages are paid.
I cannot too strongly urge upon the Department the great necessity for immediate drastic action to prevent what appears to be an abuse. Apart from the fact that we shall not be able to obtain labor which we allegedly seriously need there is involved the highly important factor of the good faith of the United States towards Mexico.
We have information from border sources that both Nogales and El Paso are now “wide open”.
It will be greatly appreciated if the Department will make every effort to remedy this situation as soon as possible and keep us promptly and fully informed.