66. Telegram 161834 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Mexico1
161834. Subject: Reply to Foreign Secretary’s Note on Illegal Aliens. Ref: Mexico 5723, 7/9/74. For the Ambassador.
1. You are requested to seek an appointment for Friday, July 26, with the ranking official of the Foreign Secretariat to deliver in person a note, text of which is quoted below. At that time you should, as a courtesy, show that official a copy of the press release, text of which is quoted in paragraph 3, and which you are authorized to release following delivery of the note. If the GOM official should for any reason raise strong objection to the press release, you should consult with the Department before releasing the press statement.
2. The text of the note is as follows:
A. I have the honor under instructions from my government to refer to Your Excellency’s note number A–246 of June 19, 1974, concerning the agreement to settle the Colorado River salinity problem and the continuing problem of Mexican workers illegally in the United States.
B. As Your Excellency is aware, the President of the United States on June 24, 1974 signed into law the legislation which permitted the immediate implementation of the terms of minute no. 242 of the International Boundary and Water Commission as this minute applies to the delivery of waters to Mexico. It is gratifying that the spirit of goodwill and accommodation existing between our countries resulted in a negotiated permanent and definitive solution to this difficult problem.
C. My government is sincerely and seriously concerned with the problem of large numbers of Mexican workers illegally entering the United States each year in search of employment. Your Excellency will recall that as a result of the meetings in Washington in June 1972, each country established a special group to study this problem in detail and that later, on July 16–17, 1973, representatives of the two governments met in Washington for a frank exchange of views. Copies of the reports [Page 218] prepared by the United States study group were given to the Mexican delegation and made public at that time.
D. Following subsequent consultations between representatives of the two governments, the Government of the United States reassessed the desirability of reinstituting a bracero-type program, which had been suggested by the Government of Mexico. The Government of Mexico was advised last January that there exists a serious unemployment situation among farmworkers in the United States and that increased use of mechanical and chemical technology is expected to reduce further the demand for hand labor in agriculture. The Government of Mexico was further informed that for these reasons very limited numbers of imported workers are required by the United States to meet peak demands of short duration and that the United States therefore did not consider a new bracero-type program a feasible solution to the problem.
E. Upon receipt of Your Excellency’s note of June 19, 1974, my government once again studied this matter and gave the most careful consideration to the possibility of negotiating a new agreement with the Government of Mexico along the lines suggested in that note. After considering all relevant factors, my government has once again concluded that such a new bracero-type program is not feasible in the United States at this time. Therefore, my government hopes that the Government of Mexico will be willing to cooperate with the United States in every other possible way in a major effort to deal with this problem which is of such importance to both countries.
F. For example, last January it was suggested that our two countries might cooperate in finding ways to discourage and control the influx of Mexican workers into the United States. It was pointed out that a substantial reduction in the numbers of illegal aliens in the United States would increase the effective demand for imported labor and, in turn, pave the way for more extensive application of presently existing procedures for labor certification as a means for the legal importation of workers. The Government of the United States continues to believe that this process would provide at least a partial solution to the problem. As Your Excellency is aware, large numbers of Mexican citizens enter the United States legally each year—almost 67,000 in fiscal year 1974—for the purpose of establishing residence and seeking employment.
G. My government considers it of high importance, in considering this problem, that distinction be made between two major elements of the issue. The question of a new bracero-type program is one of these elements. As indicated above, the view of the Government of the United States is that a new bracero-type program is not at present or in the foreseeable future a feasible solution to the problem of Mexican [Page 219] workers who wish to enter the United States. The other major element of the problem is that of the illegal entry of Mexican citizens into the United States. I am sure that Your Excellency does not question the right of the United States, in the exercise of its sovereign prerogatives, to determine the conditions under which nationals of other countries may enter its territory.
H. United States law enforcement agencies in the exercise of the United States sovereign authority to control immigration into the United States, are required to maintain physical facilities to gather, process, and return to Mexico the hundreds of thousands of Mexican nationals apprehended each year for having entered the United States illegally. The views of the Government of Mexico as to the appellation and operation of these installations have been noted, and the Government of the United States is considering alternative designations for these facilities. My government would also welcome suggestions from the Government of Mexico as to procedures which might be developed which would better coordinate processing of these Mexican citizens from United States installations into any Mexican reception programs which may now or in the future exist for the purpose of assisting such citizens to return to fruitful pursuits in Mexico and desist from seeking illegal entry into the United States.
I. The Government of the United States is at all times concerned with fair and humane treatment of apprehended aliens. It was with this in mind that the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service offered to provide office space at its centers for use by Mexican consular officials. I am pleased that Mexican consular officials are now using these facilities to the extent Mexican authorities consider necessary or desirable, and I understand that these consular officers have voiced no complaints with respect to the food, the accommodations, or the treatment accorded Mexican nationals while at these processing centers. If Your Excellency is aware of any cases of abuse, I would welcome specific information so that my government could take appropriate action.
J. I wish to assure Your Excellency that the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service has under constant review the operation of these centers to insure their orderly and humane functioning. United States consular officials assigned to cities in northern Mexico also visit the centers, and an officer of this Embassy has recently returned from a visit to the centers at El Centro, California, and El Paso, Texas. He consulted with Mexican consular officials in the centers, talked with detained persons, observed procedures, and examined facilities at the installations. I wish to invite Your Excellency or your representative to visit the centers at any time.[Page 220]
K. The presence of large numbers of illegal immigrants imposes a very substantial burden upon United States taxpayers at federal, state and municipal levels. Recognizing the magnitude and the serious nature of this problem, I earnestly reiterate my government’s request that the Government of Mexico most seriously consider what measures it may take to prevent the illegal entry of Mexican citizens into the United States.
L. Your Excellency may be assured that my government will continue to review this problem with the most serious concern, in search of those possibilities of solution which address the needs of both countries as well as those of the individual citizens affected.
M. I am also instructed to reiterate to Your Excellency my government’s strong desire to cooperate as closely as possible with the Government of Mexico on this matter, within the overall cordial and friendly framework which characterizes our special bilateral relationship.
3. The text of the press release is as follows:
A. The Embassy of the United States of America today formally replied to the Mexican Foreign Secretariat’s note of June 19, 1974 concerning the treatment by United States authorities of Mexican illegal immigrants in the United States and the desire of the Government of Mexico that a new bracero-type program be instituted.
B. The Embassy’s note pointed out the serious concern of the Government of the United States over the large number of Mexican workers who enter the United States each year in search of employment. The reply recalled that at a meeting in July, 1973, between representatives of the two governments, the United States delegation presented the results of studies and recommendations in an exchange of views with the Mexican delegation.
C. The Embassy’s note pointed out that the unemployment situation among American farmworkers and the use of increased mechanical and chemical technology result in only a small requirement for imported temporary seasonal workers and that a renewed bracero-type program is not considered a feasible solution to the problem of Mexican workers illegally in the United States.
D. The question of illegal immigration into the United States, as distinct from the issue of a new bracero-type program, relates to the sovereign authority of the United States, or any other State, to regulate and control the admission of foreigners into its territory. The facilities established to process in an orderly manner the repatriation of foreigners who have illegally entered the United States are clearly consistent with that sovereign authority.[Page 221]
E. The Embassy’s note also pointed out that as a result of an offer made by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, Mexican consular officers for the past several months have been physically located at the three processing centers and that these officials have not, so far as is known, registered complaints to United States authorities regarding the treatment of Mexican nationals at these centers.
F. The Embassy’s note invited suggestions for actions which the Government of Mexico might take to prevent the illegal entry into the United States of Mexican citizens. At the same time, the note assured the Foreign Secretariat that the United States will continue to give this problem serious attention, in search of possible solutions which meet the needs of both countries.
Summary: The Department transmitted a note to be delivered to the Mexican Foreign Ministry in reply to Rabasa’s June 19 note.
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D740202–0409. Confidential; Immediate. Drafted by Hamilton and Torrey; cleared in draft by Feldman and in substance by Greene (INS); and approved by Kubisch. Telegram 5723 from Mexico City, July 9, is ibid., D740182–0537. In telegram 6355 from Mexico City, July 26, the Embassy reported that Jova had delivered the reply to Mexican Subsecretary of Foreign Relations González Sosa and “urged, along lines of note, that GOM also attempt to do its share to impede access of illegal migrants.” (Ibid., D740203–1060)↩