475 Riverside Drive, New York 27, N. Y.

Adopted by the General Board of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. February 25, 1960

Whereas, Public Law 78 (82nd Congress) providing for the importation of agricultural workers from the Republic of Mexico will expire on June 30, 1961 unless extended by Congress; and

Whereas, the present practice of our government in authorizing the importation of Mexican nationals for agricultural labor in the United States involves human and ethical issues of grave concern to the conscience of Christian people; namely

  • a) The importation program has injurious effects on the family and community life both of the Mexican nationals who are imported and of the domestic workers who, because of the presence of Mexican nationals, are deprived of employment or find it necessary to migrate in search of employment;
  • b) Importation tends to produce a labor surplus thereby depressing wages and labor standards for domestic agricultural workers; and even if the United States has failed to make the necessary adjustments to enable all farmers to secure an equitable share of the national income there is no moral justification for perpetuation of sub-standard wages for agricultural labor;

Whereas, the General Board of the National Council of Churches has, from time to time, adopted policy positions which are relevant to this situation;

*. Pertinent National Council statements—a) "We believe that churches should support measures intended to provide more effective utilization of domestic seasonal labor; the importation of foreign workers only when necessary to supplement the domestic labor supply, with adequate provision made for their welfare; the discouragement of the practices of importing foreign workers from economically depressed areas as a means of their rehabilitation, with emphasis instead on the encouragement of efforts such as the Point 4 Program." (The Church and the Agricultural Migrants, Statement by the General Board, September 19, 1951.)b) "A violation of the Christian concept of justice exists in the fact that wage workers in agriculture are denied most of the legal and economic protections long accorded to wage workers in industry." (Ethical Goals for Agricultural Policy, Statement by the General Board, June 4, 1958)

Therefore, be it resolved, that the General Board of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. is opposed to the extension of Public Law 78 (82nd Congress) in its present form; but, to avoid hardships on employers and workers who have come to rely on this program, we approve the extension of the farm labor importation program (P.L. 78) in amended form for a temporary period with a specific date of final termination and with definite provisions for annual reductions in volume written into the act;

Furthermore, even for this period of transition, we recommend that amendments be adopted designed to bring about the following improvements in the legislation;

  • a) Limitation of the program to temporary labor shortage situations and to unskilled, non-machine jobs;
  • b) Assurance that diligent efforts have been made by both employers and the Bureau of Employment Security of the Department of Labor to recruit domestic labor at a wage adequate for health and welfare before any certification of need for Mexican nationals is made by the Department;
  • c) Removal of the "certification of need" procedures as fully as possible from undue local pressure by growers;
  • d) Determination of prevailing wage rates for Mexican nationals by the Department of Labor at a level that will not depress wages which might be offered to domestic workers or prevent their seeking such employment.
  • e) Inclusion in the law of specific provisions with respect to promulgation of rules and regulations by the Secretary of Labor which will insure observance of the intent of the law; and adequate provision for enforcement including authorization of sufficient inspection and enforcement personnel, and appropriate penalties for violations;
  • f) Establishment of an appeal procedure available to growers or workers where findings of violation are made;

Be it further resolved, that in taking this position we recognize that certain other aspects of our national policy are inter-twined with the operation of the Mexican importation program and that we recognize that a responsible policy which provides for early termination of that program must also come to grips with the following related issues:

  • a) The necessity of providing adequate enforcement of the immigration laws on the Mexican border to prevent resurgence of the vast influx of so-called "wet-backs" of a few years ago and strict interpretation of the provisions of the immigration laws so as to prevent circumvention of the termination of the Mexican importation program;
  • b) The readiness of the U. S. Government to develop, with the Mexican Government, such programs of economic and technical aid as may be required at least to offset any injury the Mexican economy may suffer from the termination of the Mexican importation program.

Be it further resolved, that the General Board authorize representatives of the National Council of Churches to testify at hearings in respect to Public Law 78 (82nd Congress) along lines indicated above.