483. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to Secretary of State Rogers, Attorney General Mitchell, Secretary of Agriculture Butz, Secretary of Labor Hodgson, and Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Richardson1 2

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  • Illegal Immigrants from Mexico

During his recent State Visit to the United States, President Echeverria of Mexico raised with President Nixon the problem of illegal immigrants entering the US from Mexico, their treatment here, and alleged abuses and indignities to which they are sometimes subjected. The two Presidents agreed to establish special groups within their respective governments to study this problem and to make recommendations for dealing with it more effectively in the future.

In accordance with this understanding, the President has directed that a special group be established within our government to study this problem and to make recommendations to him. In view of the nature of the problem—widespread illegal entry into the US—the group should be headed by a senior official of the Justice Department selected by the Attorney General. The Secretaries of Agriculture, Labor and Health, Education and Welfare should designate responsible officers from their respective Departments to participate in this effort. The Secretary of State should designate an officer to work with the group to advise especially on Mexican attitudes and perspectives in regard to this question.

The group should prepare a report for the President that will include:

  • 1) an up-to-date description of the problem;
  • 2) a description of measures currently being taken to deal with this problem, including estimated costs;
  • 3) recommendations for measures that might be taken, with the pros and cons for each, in order to:
    • —discourage the flow of illegal entrants;
    • —assure reasonable and humanitarian treatment for those who come into the US in defiance of regulations;
  • 4) measures we might discuss with the Mexican Government that could be taken by their authorities, or jointly, to help ease or correct this problem.

Please inform me of the individuals designated by the respective Departments to carry out this assignment. A report should be made to the President by November 1, 1972.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 788, Country Files, Latin America, Mexico, Vol. III, 1972. Confidential. A June 17 Joint Communiqué notes that “With regard to the question of migratory workers, the two Presidents discussed the economic, social, and political factors that produce this problem and agreed it was desirable for each government to undertake immediately a study of this question with a view to finding a mutually satisfactory solution.” (Public Papers: Nixon, 1972, pp. 684–686)
  2. During meetings with President Nixon in Washington, on June 15 and 16, President Echeverría raised the issue of illegal immigrants from Mexico and their treatment in the United States. In the wake of their discussions, President Nixon “directed that a special group be established within our Government to study this problem and to make recommendations to him.”