The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Mexico (Messersmith)
Sir: Reference is made to the Agreement of April 26, 1943 for the temporary migration to the United States of Mexican agricultural workers. Reference is also made to recent communications between the Department and the Embassy in regard to the repatriation of Mexican workers now in the United States as their contracts expire.
A letter dated August 31, 194557 has now been received from Colonel Wilson R. Buie, Director of Labor of the United States Department of Agriculture, which states that in planning for the return of Mexican nationals several things must be taken into consideration, such as the existing need for such workers to assure the maximum harvest of current crops and the transportation equipment and facilities available for effecting their orderly repatriation. It [Page 1150] states that in order to make full utilization of Mexican workers until such time as return transportation is available, it is proposed that on or before the termination date specified in existing individual work agreements, the Mexican workers be requested to execute an agreement, a copy of the text of which is transmitted herewith.59
In order to ascertain the exact intention of the proposed amendment, an officer of the Department discussed the matter with officials of the Department of Agriculture, who made certain clarifications. All existing contracts of Mexican agricultural workers expire on or before December 31. Therefore, the signing of this amendment by a Mexican worker would mean the extension of his contract at least to December 31, 1945, and to a later date, up to May 1, 1946, if authority and funds are made available by the Congress for such an extension. In other words, it might be said that the amendment provides an extension of existing contracts for a period which cannot at this time be specified. This will permit the continued employment of the worker until transportation is available for him, which is seen as an advantage to both the worker and the employer. While no restrictions are laid down, the proposed amendment would be offered principally to workers in the Southwest, including California, where, it will be recalled, there has been a demand in the past for a certain number of agricultural workers throughout the winter.
It is the understanding of the Department that the signing of the agreement by those to whom it may be tendered would be optional, which means that those who do not wish to remain in the United States beyond the period of their present contracts would be repatriated as their contracts expire. Those who do sign the extension agreement would have their contracts extended for an undetermined period at the convenience of the Department of Agriculture, which convenience would largely be governed by the availability of transportation to effect proper repatriation.
For your own confidential information and not to be communicated to the Mexican Government unless the question is raised by it, the Department of Agriculture would of course give the worker as much advance notice as possible, but at this time the Department of Agriculture does not find it possible to set any definite period for such notice.
You are requested, in your discretion, to discuss this proposed amendment with the Mexican Government with a view to securing agreement to its use under the circumstances indicated above. As the decision reached in this matter will have an important bearing on the working out of orderly repatriation schedules for all Mexican [Page 1151] workers, it will be appreciated if you will handle this matter on an urgent basis.60
Very truly yours,
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- The Mexican Ministry for Foreign Affairs, in note No. 3805, November 6, 1945, enclosed in despatch 27,379, November 26, from Mexico, informed the American Embassy in Mexico that the Mexican Ministry of Labor agreed to authorize the renewal of the contracts of agricultural workers from the date of expiration to December 31, 1945, but reserved its decision with regard to renewal until May 1, 1946. The note further informed the American Embassy that the Ministry of Labor agreed to the continuance in effect of the contracts of railroad workers until such time as they could be returned to Mexico. (811.504 Mexico/11–2645)↩