811.504 Mexico/7–146

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Mexico ( Thurston )

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No. 176

Sir: Reference is made to … much previous correspondence between the Department and the Embassy on the subject of clandestine and illegal entries into the United States by Mexican nationals to seek agricultural employment.

In the communications under reference, the great problem presented to the Immigration and Naturalization Service by the large number of illegal entrants has been amply set forth, and to date the principal problem has been the detention and return to Mexico of such individuals who have been apprehended in the Imperial Valley. There is now enclosed for your information a further communication on this general subject, dated July 1, 1946, from the Attorney General, together [Page 1031] with a copy of a memorandum prepared by the District Director of Immigration of the Los Angeles District,2 indicating that the San Diego area has become as great a problem in this regard as the Imperial Valley. The Attorney General stresses the necessity of immediate action because he considers that the situation along the Mexican border is becoming more aggravated daily.

Since the receipt of the letter under reference, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has discussed further developments in this matter with representatives of the Department by telephone. They have stated that further word has been received from the Immigration inspector in charge of the San Diego area that the Mexican immigration officials are refusing to receive Mexican nationals who have resided less than six months in Lower California through the Mexican ports of entry in Lower California. In view of the increasing number of individuals involved, this is placing a very heavy strain on the facilities of the United States Immigration Service. It calls for more detention capacity and the transportation of more individuals at great expense to Nogales, Sonora and to Ciudad Juárez. The fact that those who are returned to Mexico are apparently made the subject of no controls by the Mexican Government is of special concern since the individuals in question make their way back across the border within a very few days of the dates of their departure.

The Immigration officials point out, in regard to the voluntary deportation of Mexican individuals, that the Mexican federal law does not provide for any selective system such as the one being used in Lower California ports by Mexican officials. The Immigration officials consider therefore, that they are entitled to deliver all Mexican nationals apprehended while illegally in this country to the nearest Mexican port of entry without restrictions. At the same time they point out it is a waste of time and money to transport individuals apprehended in California to Nogales and El Paso for delivery to Mexico, in view of the fact that the Mexican Government has taken no steps to get such individuals away from the border or back to their homes in the interior of Mexico, but has permitted them full freedom as stated above, which has resulted in the early return of most of them to the United States in the same illegal manner.

The Department shares the concern of the Attorney General and the Immigration and Naturalization Service as to these illegal entrants, but as stated in instruction no. 84782a and previous communications it is not too confident that further approaches to the Mexican Government will bring about more than a very temporary solution of this perennial problem. It will be recalled that the conference in May [Page 1032] and June of 1944, which was initiated by the Mexican Government, made a series of definite recommendations to both Governments with the unanimous concurrence of the Mexican delegation, the members of which individually promised to do everything within their power toward the carrying out of the recommendations. As the record will show, the Immigration Service has been most zealous in complying with both the spirit and the letter of those recommendations, while there is no indication of effective parallel action by the Mexican Government.

In view of the persistence of the undesirable situation in the Imperial Valley and the aggravation of the situation in the San Diego area, the Department considers it desirable to go on record again with the Mexican Government in regard to this matter.

You are therefore requested to prepare an appropriate note to the Mexican Foreign Office reviewing developments since 1944, or earlier, and pointing out that the Immigration Service of the United States has increased its border patrol and has taken many other measures to discourage and to prevent clandestine and illegal entrance into the United States by Mexican nationals. You should request that the Mexican Government give this matter every possible attention with a view to discouraging the movement of individuals toward the Mexican border, especially with California, and with a view to establishing the most active possible patrol service to prevent illegal departure of individuals from Mexico. You may also wish to invite attention to the possibility of the establishment by the Mexican Government of control measures at strategic points some distance from the border, this in view of reports that most of the individuals under reference proceed to Lower California through Santa Ana, Sonora, where transportation facilities are available from the Southern Pacific Railroad to said border ports.

The Department views sympathetically the desire of the Immigration and Naturalization Service to return Mexican nationals apprehended while illegally in the United States through the nearest Mexican port. Such action on the part of the Immigration Service, however, may be considered by the Mexican Government as at least a partial denouncement of the Agreement entered into in 1944 in spite of the fact that there has been little or no Mexican action under that Agreement. If, in spite of the circumstances which have developed, the Mexicans still have an interest in preserving the Agreement, it might be effective to inform them that unless there is immediate evidence of control action by Mexico it will be necessary to consider the Agreement no longer in effect. In your discretion you may, therefore, include in your note to the Mexican Government a statement along the above lines. If, however, it is your opinion that the Mexican Government no longer values the Agreement, you may limit yourself [Page 1033] to informing the Mexican Government that the Immigration Service plans to return workers in the future through the nearest Mexican port of entry. You may assure the Mexican Government that the Immigration and Naturalization Service of this Government will continue to take all possible measures to prevent the clandestine entrance of Mexican nationals into the United States.

The Department will appreciate being furnished at the earliest possible date with a copy of the communication which you address to the Foreign Office on this matter, in order that the Attorney General may be informed of the steps taken. The Immigration Service is especially anxious to proceed without delay with the return of all illegal entrants through the nearest Mexican port of entry because of the reasons set forth above. It would be very desirable, therefore, to have an early word from you on this point for the guidance of the Immigration Service.3

Very truly yours,

For the Acting Secretary of State:
Spruille Braden

[An agreement between the United States and Mexico respecting Mexican non-agricultural workers, which terminated the agreement of April 29, 1943, was effected by exchange of notes signed at Washington November 15, 1946. For texts of notes, see Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 1684, or 61 Stat. (pt. 4) 3575.]

  1. Neither printed.
  2. Dated March 18, 1946, p. 1028.
  3. In despatch 1274, October 18, from Mexico City, Ambassador Thurston indicated that in response to this instruction an exchange of notes with the Mexican Foreign Office had taken place, which strengthened the conviction that no effective action would be taken by the Mexican authorities to assist in the curtailment of the illegal movement of its nationals across the border. It was proposed that vigilance of the border patrol be increased and that State Governments and immigration authorities be urged to impress workers with the need of giving Mexico the fruit of their labors. The only concession brought about by the exchange of notes, Ambassador Thurston noted, was qualified, in that the Mexican Government expressed its willingness to accept deportees at Tijuana and Mexicali. if they entered the United States through those ports. (811.504 Mexico/10–1846)