The Ambassador in Mexico (Messersmith) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 22.]
Sir: Reference is made to my despatch No. 28,279 of February 12, 1946,90 respecting the unfavorable publicity being given by the local press to the desire of the Department of Agriculture to recruit Mexican agricultural workers for employment in the United States under the Agreement of April 26, 1943. It will be recalled that this publicity was in part the result of the publication in the United States of a letter from Secretary of Agriculture Anderson to Senator Wheeler of Montana respecting the Mexican prohibition on the employment of Mexican labor in that State among others.
I now have the honor to transmit herewith a clipping from Excelsior of February 1590 giving the substance of an Associated Press despatch of the day previous from Washington. It will be noted that in this despatch quotation is made from a letter addressed by Secretary Anderson to Representative Crawford of Michigan and, further, certain quoted statements in a tone somewhat disparaging to Mexico are attributed to Representative Crawford.
I am also transmitting herewith another clipping from Excelsior of today’s date90 containing a statement issued by Licenciado Trujillo Gurria, the Minister of Labor. Licenciado Trujillo Gurria gives the reasons impelling him to prohibit the employment of Mexican labor in certain States in the United States, these being the fact that the salaries paid to Mexican workers in those States had been less than those paid to American labor, the subterfuges of employers in computing wages of the Mexican workers, lack of medical attention, and poor living conditions.
As I stated in my despatch under reference the undue publicity given in the United States to letters from Secretary Anderson respecting the possibility of the employment of Mexican agricultural workers cannot help but have an adverse effect upon the possibility of being able to contract Mexican labor during 1946.[Page 1023]
I have now officially asked the Mexican Government for permission for the Office of Labor, Department of Agriculture, to contract Mexican agricultural workers and to maintain in the United States up to 54,000 of such during the present calendar year. I believe that it will be possible to obtain the Mexican Government’s consent to this contracting, always provided that the matter is discreetly handled. However, in view of the recent publicity emanating from Washington and appearing in the local press, I doubt very much if it will be possible now to obtain permission to employ Mexican workers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming.
When Colonel Buie, the Director of the Office of Labor, Department of Agriculture, was in Mexico in the latter part of January, he conferred with Licenciado Trujillo Gurria, at which time the Mexican Minister of Labor had insisted that no Mexican workers would go to any State in the United States where sugarbeets were grown. After much discussion, the Minister was persuaded to recede from this stand to the extent that the prohibition would only apply to the States mentioned above. At the time of this conference Colonel Buie was informed as to the reasons why the Minister would not permit Mexican labor to go to the States in question.