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Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Urging Action on a Bill Relating to the United States-Mexico Commission for Border Development and Friendship

July 02, 1968

Dear Mr. speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Congress now has an opportunity to reaffirm the abiding friendship that is maintained between the United States and her neighboring sister republic, Mexico.

Prompt action will also encourage and stimulate the efforts of the two nations to improve the opportunities of the people living on both sides of the 2,000-mile long border.

The bill would establish the United States Section of the United States-Mexico Commission for Border Development and Friendship.

This bill would give Congressional recognition and endorsement to the April 1966 decision of the President of the United States and the President of Mexico to set up the joint Commission and would also provide a statutory foundation for the activities of the United States Section of that Commission. The United States Section now includes representatives at the Assistant Secretary level or above of nine Federal agencies and the Chairman of the Interagency Committee on Mexican-American Affairs.

I met with President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz in Mexico City in April 1966 to review the problems along our border. We decided then to establish a Commission to study ways and means of improving relations between border communities and of elevating the economic, social and cultural life of the people in the entire border area. Our decision was formalized through an exchange of notes on November 30 and December 3, 1966.

The first session of the Commission was held in Mexico City in October 1967. Fourteen working groups were established to explore and find solutions for the primary problems facing both countries in the border area. Another meeting of the Commission was held in Washington, D.C., in May of this year to review progress of the working groups and give them further directions.

Already there have been concrete results from this effort. Some of these are as follows:

1. A formal mechanism for cooperative action has been created to deal with future emergencies or natural disasters in the border area.

2. Pilot joint community service centers are being established on both sides of the border to provide basic community services, including mobile out-reach services, to the lower income groups of both countries.

3. Agreement was reached to establish a joint demonstration skill training center to assist the unemployed and underemployed on both sides of the border and improve their capability to obtain employment.

4. An industrialization study is now underway to determine the possibility of creating new industries and jobs on the U.S. side of the border in order to relieve unemployment and to help expand the tax base of border communities.

5. The already excellent working relationships in the field of health are being further strengthened, especially in the fields of mother and child nutrition and of training auxiliary health personnel.

6. A joint workshop was held in Laredo-Neuvo Laredo to discuss mutual urban problems and to seek mutual solutions. Similar workshops are planned for other twin cities on the California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas border with Mexico. These are a few examples of the accomplishments of the Commission, which has provided a focal point for the interested agencies of both governments in coordinating their efforts to solve the problems of the border area.

When the Commission was first formed, the United States suggested it carry the name "Border Development Commission." Mexico accepted this, but suggested that the word "Friendship" be included in the title. Indeed, the strengthening of friendly ties not only between the officials and technicians of the two governments, but also between the people of our two countries, has been a primary aim and achievement of the Commission's activities to date.

The passage of this bill will be a concrete indication to the Mexican Government of the full backing for this endeavor by the United States Government. I urge prompt action by the Congress on this legislation.



Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Hubert H. Humphrey, President of the Senate, and to the Honorable John W. McCormack, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The recommended legislation was not enacted during the 90th Congress.

For remarks and a joint statement during the President's visit to Mexico City in April 1966, see 1966 volume, this series, Book I, Items 174-177.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Urging Action on a Bill Relating to the United States-Mexico Commission for Border Development and Friendship Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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