811.504 Mexico/12–3146

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

No. 2341

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Embassy’s telegram No. 1147 of December 30, 1946,4 informing the Department that the Ministry of Gobernación of the Mexican Government advised the Mexican Minister for Foreign Relations that it would be necessary to close the ports of Tijuana and Mexicali because adequate facilities do not exist at [Page 1034] those places for lodging, feeding and transporting the Mexican workers who entered the United States illegally and who, according to the Mexican Foreign Office, are being deported by U.S. authorities through Tijuana and Mexicali at the rate of 100 a day.

It was also pointed out in the telegram that the Minister for Foreign Relations requested the Ministry of Gobernación not to close the ports forthwith, but to defer such action until the Foreign Office could take the matter up with this Embassy. In doing so, the Foreign Office requested that the American Government suspend deportations of Mexican workers through Tijuana and Mexicali until the matter could be discussed further between the two Governments. At the time this question was taken up by the Foreign Office, it presented an unnumbered memorandum dated December 30, 1946, of which a translation is enclosed herewith.5 In this connection reference is made to despatch No. 1274 from this Embassy dated October 18, 1946, entitled “Transmission of Copies of Notes Exchanged with the Mexican Government on the Illegal Entry of Mexican Citizens into the United States”.6 The enclosures to this despatch, namely the Embassy’s note No. 53 dated September 17, 1946, addressed to the Secretary for Foreign Relations of the Mexican Government, and his reply, note No. 510938 dated October 8, 1946, discuss thoroughly the point at issue between the two Governments, the difficulties of which appear not to have been surmounted on either side.

The Embassy believes that the Mexican Government, for reasons explained in its note of October 8, 1946, is unable to control the movement of workers across the frontier into the United States, which individuals apparently are determined to run repeated risks to obtain work in the United States. This may be due in part to the high remuneration which these workers received during and since the war, and may be due also to the knowledge of handsome wages received in the United States by the thousands of agricultural workers (braceros) who have returned to Mexico spreading the reports of their earnings. It appears, therefore, that grounds exist for the statement of the Mexican Government to the effect that at one time the United States were willing to have these workers in certain agricultural sections of California. It may be argued too that the importation by the United States of several hundred thousand agricultural workers from Mexico during the last few years has contributed to the zeal of those now seeking continually to cross the border and find work in the agricultural sections of California. In other words, the need of the United States for additional agricultural labor has contributed much to creating the problem that now exists.

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Apparently, notwithstanding the agreement of 1944 made between the two Governments for the control of illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States, the Mexican Government has been unable to take effective measures to prevent workers from crossing into the United States. Nor does it appear that this clandestine immigration will cease until employment is no longer available for these workers in the United States.

According to the enclosures transmitted with the Embassy’s despatch No. 1274 of October 18, 1946, above mentioned, both the American and Mexican Governments have agreed to take effective measures to control illegal immigration of Mexican agricultural workers to the United States. According to statements made by the Mexican Government and according to the reported number of workers rounded up daily in the United States by American authorities, it is evident that neither Government has been able effectively to control passage of these workers across the border, whereby an aggravating situation has been created for both the American and Mexican officials endeavoring to cope with this problem. It is obviously within the rights of the United States to round up these workers and return them to the nearest ports of entry, that is, Tijuana and Mexicali. However, since the Mexican authorities have no facilities for feeding, lodging and transporting the deportees, they are probably turned loose and find their way speedily back into the United States, whereby the official process of rounding them up and releasing them becomes a vicious circle. The situation has become so serious, according to oral statements made in the Mexican Foreign Office, that the Ministry of Gobernación considers that it will be necessary to close both of these ports if the American authorities continue to deliver the large number of deportees of which the Mexican authorities complain.

The Embassy believes under the circumstances, in view of the representations made by the Mexican Government, that only those workers should be returned through the ports of Mexicali and Tijuana where it can be proved that the respective individuals entered the United States in the vicinity of these ports, and that others should be returned through Nogales and El Paso.

It might be suggested, furthermore, in view of a situation which is becoming increasingly difficult and is apparently insoluble to both Governments, that consideration be given to the advisability of undertaking a program of recruitment of agricultural workers for temporary work in California, where it is judged, from the number of workers attempting to enter that State, that an extensive need for agricultural labor exists. The initiation of a positive program of this sort, at this particular time, might contribute substantially to the economy of the United States and avoid the difficulties which now exist.

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The Embassy will be interested in learning what if anything may be done to meet the desires of the Mexican authorities in relieving the pressure on their offices at Mexicali and Tijuana. It will be appreciated if the Embassy may be advised as soon as possible as to the Department’s attitude with respect to the request of the Foreign Minister as reported in telegram No. 1147 from this Embassy, dated December 30, 1946.7

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
Raymond H. Geist

Counselor of Embassy
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. See footnote 3, p. 1033.
  4. Secretary Byrnes informed Ambassador Thurston in telegram 73, January 17, 1947, 6 p.m., that this Government was willing to discuss deportation problems and to send a delegation to Mexico City for discussions “limited week Jan 27 or after Feb 10” (811.504 Mexico/12–3046).