68. Memorandum From Stephen Low of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Meeting of the Presidents at the Mexican Border—October 21

As things now stand we have little but bad news to give the Mexicans in response to the subjects that they want to raise with us at the border meeting on October 21. They will, of course, be pleased that the meeting is being held at all—and particularly that it will be the first foreign visit which President Ford will have made.

On illegal immigrants we will have to inform them of the Rodino Bill which will be out of the Senate Committee or perhaps in conference by the time the meeting is held. The Bill will permit somewhat greater flexibility in the Department of Labor certification procedure, thus permitting a slightly increased flow of legal aliens. However, its main import will be to make hiring of illegal aliens a punishable offense. If enforced with any stringency (which is unlikely) it could result in the return to Mexico of many of their estimated 1.5 million illegal immigrants now in the United States. We have pointed out to the Justice Department the importance of holding up on final passage of this Bill until after the meeting and it is cooperating with us. However, the President will have to inform Echeverria of the imminent enactment of this legislation.

The Mexicans will also propose a preliminary conference between coastal states on a 200-mile patrimonial sea. We will have to discourage this until a new Law-of-the-Sea Conference has met.

The third subject will be the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties, where, as you are aware, we will have to stand by our refusal to agree to a document which does not include recognition of obligations of states under international law. The Mexicans have indicated they want to press towards consideration of a final agreement in the General Assembly.

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Two other subjects will be considered. We will want to bring up narcotics and ask for greater cooperation from the Mexican Government. Echeverria has said that he wishes to ask our advice on the Mexican anti-inflation measures. We can, of course, be forthcoming on this subject.

We are looking into whether there are any other matters on which we can be somewhat more positive towards Mexican positions. One possibility might be a joint high-level commission to study improvement of economic conditions in areas from which the migrants are leaving, through private investment and assistance from international financial institutions. State is working on this proposal.

  1. Summary: Low outlined the issues likely to be raised in a meeting between Presidents Ford and Echeverría planned for October 21, lamenting that “we will have little but bad news to give the Mexicans.”

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser Papers, NSC Latin American Affairs Staff Files, General Subject Files, Box 13, Trip—President’s Meeting with Echeverría of Mexico, October 21, 1974, 1. Confidential. Sent for information. A note on the memorandum reads: “10/8 HAK took on trip to ME [Middle East].”