Cabot files, lot 56 D 13, “Mexico”

The Ambassador in Mexico ( White ) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs ( Cabot )

Dear Jack : I have received this morning a copy of your memorandum of conversation of February 3rd1 at the White House with the President and the Mexican Ambassador.

Just because the matter may come up again at the Caracas Conference,2 which I assume you will attend, I should like to point out that while we have a very definite interest in channeling all Mexican laborers into the legal and out of the illegal field, this is not the problem that is concerned in the matter of wages. The only question is that the Mexican authorities have not lived up to the recently expired Agreement. It was the abuses that have resulted in the carrying out of that Agreement that caused it to break down. The Agreement is the [Page 1357] fairest of any existing in the world for workers. Italians going to England and France do not have such protection; Spaniards going to Cuba and Argentina do not have that protection. Guatemalans coming into Mexico do not have that or any other protection. The wages are most fair and adequate. In the matter of wages, the workers have the following benefits: 1) They are getting the prevailing wages for American domestic workers; 2) This prevailing wage is determined and published by the Secretary of Labor; 3) The Secretary of Labor cannot publish a capricious figure but must find the facts and be prepared to defend them before an investigating committee; 4) The Secretary of Labor agrees not to publish a wage rate adversely affected by the presence of illegal Mexican workers; 5) Mexican workers are going to the country with the highest wage rates in the world, rates that are 12 to 15 times what they are in Mexico; 6) The United States guarantees payment of the wages, subsistence and transportation of the workers; and, 7) If the Mexican Government or its agents have reasons to believe that the Secretary of Labor has erred in his findings, they can always ask him to make a reexamination of the situation. Instead of doing this the Mexicans have attempted to fix wages in the United States which is contrary to our laws and to the Agreement. That is the nub of the matter, and has nothing to do with sumptuary legal points such as the prohibition laws. I am sorry this point was not brought out for the President’s benefit, so that he would know that there is real substance to our position in the matter of wages. Should the matter come up at Caracas, where it is very important for our relations with the rest of Latin America, I hope our position will be clearly and forcefully stated.

With all good wishes,

Yours sincerely,

  1. Supra.
  2. Reference is to the Tenth Inter-American Conference held at Caracas, Mar. 1–28, 1954; for documentation concerning the conference, see pp. 264 ff.