President Johnson reports to Senator Spessard Holland (D-Dl) about an administration decision to approve a request from the Florida sugar industry to recruit foreign workers for the upcoming harvest season. Holland had supported the sugar growers' request. Johnson also indicated that the administration had not yet received an application for foreign workers from the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, and that the citrus industry had not yet demonstrated a clear need for such workers. Holland protested that the industry "just can't get the Americans to do it." The conversation demonstrates the process by which extra agricultural workers were admitted to the United States during the early and mid-1960s.
In 1942, during the early stages of U.S. involvement in World War II, the United States signed the Bracero Agreement with Mexico, granting Mexican farm workers the opportunity to work on U.S. farms. In 1951, the program fell under the framework of Public Law 78. Over the course of the program, perhaps 5 million Latino workers became part of the U.S. agricultural system. In California in 1963, 63,000 workers had been employed through the program. In late 1963, the program's renewal was the subject of controversy, and Congress agreed only to a one-year extension, expecting the program to end on December 31, 1964. One of the opponents of extension was James Farmer, who worried that it took jobs away from black workers. Farmer had registered his discontent two months earlier, but had restated his opinion a few days before Johnson's visit with Mexican president Adolfo Lupez Mateos. Farmer urged that discontinuing the Bracero arrangement was "in the interest of native farm laborers (many of them Negro) for whom poverty is a daily reality." During that visit, California officials announced that they were stopping their efforts to extend the arrangement.