Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by Mr. William G. MacLean of the Division of Mexican Affairs
Mr. Kingsley61 telephoned that Mr. Snyder62 had received a communication from the Secretary of Labor, Mr. Schwellenbach which stated that the latter was disposed to issue an order that Mexican nationals whose contracts have expired be held in camps while awaiting transportation to Mexico. Mr. Kingsley said that Mr. Snyder [Page 1152] wished to have the opinion of the Department in regard to this proposal.
I stated that the Department was of the opinion that such an action would seriously affect our good relations with Mexico and be a matter for exceedingly unfavorable publicity throughout the other American republics. I pointed out (1) that the individuals involved would be deprived of earnings to support their families while held in camps, which would create severe personal hardship for them; (2) that Governor McNutt, former Chairman of the War Manpower Commission, had personally arranged with the Mexican Minister of Labor for the employment of these workers until transportation could be provided for their return to Mexico and that Governor McNutt had assured the Minister that the workers would continue to enjoy all the guarantees contained in their individual work contracts; and (3) that the Mexican Government had been stressing for many months that it would have to object strenuously to the use of camps for their workers because of the reaction thereto which would undoubtedly arise in Mexico.
In regard to the second point above, I stated that, at the request of the War Manpower Commission, the Department had asked the Mexican Government to permit the continued employment of their workers while awaiting transportation, and that this would be considered by the Mexicans an additional commitment to keep them employed while awaiting repatriation. I said that Ambassador Messersmith, who is now in the city, felt very strongly that these workers should be given considerate treatment until they could be returned to Mexico, and that I was sure he would be glad to telephone Secretary Schwellenbach or to visit him regarding this question if Mr. Snyder’s office considered that such an action would be desirable. Mr. Kingsley said that he was very glad to have this information and that he believed that Mr. Snyder would consider that Secretary Schwellenbach’s proposal could not be put into force. Mr. Kingsley said that he would let me know if Mr. Snyder considered it necessary for the Ambassador to discuss this matter with the Secretary of Labor. The implication was that Mr. Snyder would no doubt feel this Government’s obligation sufficiently to make it unnecessary to bother the Ambassador.
(Secretary Schwellenbach’s proposal would immediately affect approximately 20,000 workers whose contracts have already expired, and the number would grow daily until December 3, when the railroad workers are to have the use of all available transportation equipment in Mexico for a two-week period. It would undoubtedly mean the retention in camps of most workers for at least a month and for a longer period in most cases.)