Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Providing for Protection of Mexican Migrant Labor.

March 16, 1954

ON SIGNING this legislation, I wish to dispel any misconceptions which may exist regarding its purpose. The basic purpose is to enable this Government to give Mexican migrant labor the protection of our laws.

Whenever United States employment is at such a level that Mexican workers are needed to supplement the United States labor force, and whenever they can be spared temporarily from Mexico, we of course welcome their valuable assistance to our farming community if they will cross the border legally. The problem of adequate control and protection of Mexican workers in the United States has in recent years been the subject of searching analysis by the Governments of the United States and Mexico, working both independently and together.

The two Governments, after more than four months of careful study and friendly negotiation--conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect worthy of two sovereign neighbors--announced on March 10 that they had concluded a renewed and improved Migrant Labor Agreement. While neither Government assumes that this Agreement will prove to be the final answer to the whole complex problem, it provides necessary means for moving forward to more complete solutions.

Unforeseeable future developments may some day lead the two Governments to determine that formal agreement on this subject is no longer desirable but that appropriate action by each within its own jurisdiction is still essential. Authority has existed for a number of years for the Attorney General to admit Mexican farm workers under whatever conditions he alone may establish, but because of the wording of applicable legislation there has not been adequate authority for United States governmental measures for protection and placement of the workers at any time there should not be an agreement with Mexico. The present law is precautionary in that it removes this disability and enables the Secretary of Labor to perform these functions of protecting and placing migrant workers which are so important to both United States and Mexican interests, at any time these services may be required.

Note: As enacted the bill (H.J. Res. 355) is Public Law 309, 83d Congress (68 Stat. 28).

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Providing for Protection of Mexican Migrant Labor. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233605

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