“descendants of races indigenous to the Western Hemisphere” in the Naturalization Act of 1940 (Haney López)

During the war, the United States seemed through some of its laws and social practices to embrace the same racism it was fighting. Both fronts of the war exposed profound inconsistencies between U.S. naturalization law and broader social ideals. These considerations, among others, led Congress to begin a process of piecemeal reform in the laws governing citizenship.

In 1940, Congress opened naturalization to “descendants of races indigenous to the Western Hemisphere.”[39] Apparently, this “additional limitation was designed to ‘more fully cement’ the ties of Pan-Americanism” at a time of impending crisis.[40] In 1943, Congress replaced the prohibition on the naturalization of Chinese persons with a provision explicitly granting them this boon.[41] In 1946, it opened up naturalization to persons from the Philippines and India as well.[42] Thus, at the end of the war, our naturalization law looked like this:

The right to become a naturalized citizen under the provisions of this Act shall extend only to–

(1) white persons, persons of African nativity or descent, and persons of races indigenous to the continents of North or South America or adjacent islands and Filipino persons or persons of Filipino descent;

(2) persons who possess, either singly or in combination, a preponderance of blood of one or more of the classes specified in clause (1);

(3) Chinese persons or persons of Chinese descent; and persons of races indigenous to India; and

(4) persons who possess, either singly or in combination, a preponderance of blood of one or more of the classes specified in clause (3) or, either singly or in combination, as much as one-half blood of those classes and some additional blood of one of the classes specified in clause (1).[43]

Ian F. Haney López, White By Law: The Legal Construction of Race (New York: New York University Press, 1996), 45.
  1. [39]Act of Oct. 14, 1940, ch. 876, § 303, 54 Stat. 1140
  2. [40]Note, The Nationality Act of 1940, 54 HARV. L. REV. 860, 865 n.40 (1941)
  3. [41]Act of Dec. 17, 1943, ch. 344, § 3, 57 Stat. 600.
  4. [42]Act of July 2, 1946, ch. 534, 60 Stat. 416.
  5. [43]Id.

Reading notes from De León and Stewart, Tejanos and the Numbers Game

107, n. 5. Abel G. Rubio, Stolen Heritage: A Mexican American’s Rediscovery of His Family’s Lost Land Grant, edited and with a Foreword by Thomas H. Kreneck (Austin: Eakin Press, 1986); David Montejano, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987); Arnoldo De León, They Called Them Greasers: Anglo Attitudes Toward Mexicans in Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983); Arnoldo De León and Kenneth L. Stewart, “Lost Dreams and Found Fortunes: Mexican and Anglo Immigrants in South Texas, 1850-1900,” Western Historical Quarterly, XIV (July 1983), 291-310.

n. 6. Ricardo Romo, “The Urbanization of Southwestern Chicanos in the Early Twentieth Century,” in Ricardo Romo and Raymond Paredes, New Directions in Chicano Scholarship (La Jolla: University of California at San Diego, 1978), p. 196.

108, n. 7. See Arnoldo de León, “Tejano History Scholarship: A Review of the Recent Literature,” West Texas Historical Association Yearbook, LXI (1985), 123; Roger W. Lotchin, “The New Chicano Histor: An Urban History Perspective,” The History Teacher, XVI (February 1983), 229-247. Also see Arnoldo de León, Ethnicity in the Sunbelt: Mexican Americans in Houston, Texas (Houston: Mexican American Studies Center, 1989).

“in these distant and desolate places, the descendants of the noble and chivalric Castilians had sunk to the level, perhaps beneath it, of the aboriginal savages” (Baylies, qtd. in McDonald and Matovina)

The economic and political diminishment of Tejanos at San Antonio, along with the corresponding Anglo-American ascendancy, was accompanied by literary attempts to interpret these changes. Anglo Americans tended to interpret their presence in San Antonio as initiating an era of progress. In an 1851 book, for example, Francis Baylies applauded the Franciscans who worked in the San Antonio missions during the eighteenth century, although he incorrectly identified them as Jesuits. Baylies then added:

After the expulsion of the Jesuits, everything went to decay. Agriculture, learning, the mechanic arts, shared the common fate; and when the banners of the United States were unfurled in these distant and desolate places, the descendants of the noble and chivalric Castilians had sunk to the level, perhaps beneath it, of the aboriginal savages; but it is to be hoped that the advent of the Saxo-Norman may brighten, in some degree, the faded splendor of the race which has fallen.[10]

Similar views of Tejano demise followed by Anglo-American progress appeared in the San Antonio press. Even Anglo Americans who “defended” the Tejano population against public criticism ascribed to the view that Tejanos were victims [23] of a morally and intellectually impoverished heritage, and that Anglo-American influence offered a means to redeem that heritage. Concerned that a San Antonio Ledger article attacking the character of local Tejanos might discourage further Anglo-American and European immigration to the city, for example, a correspondent responded in another local newspaper:

It is lamentably true that our Mexican population, generally, do not occupy as high a position in the scale of morality and intelligence as is desirable; yet every one who knows their former condition, and will take into consideration their former mode of life, as well as the demoralizing effect of the Government under which they lived previous to the establishment of the Texas Republic, must admit that they are reforming as rapidly as could have been expected, under the circumstances by which they have been surrounded.[11]

Navarro led the Tejano response to Anglo-American renderings of their history. Although previously he had recorded only privately some brief remarks on local events during the Mexican War for Independence from Spain, he presented his later writings in the English-language press to correct publicly the Anglo-American historical accounts and biased attitudes….

David R. McDonald and Timothy M. Matovina, “Introductory Essay,” in José Antonio Navarro, Defending Mexican Valor in Texas: José Antonio Navarro’s Historical Writings, 1853-1857, ed. David R. McDonald and Timothy M. Matovina (Austin: State House Press, 1995). 22-23.

  1. [10]Francis Baylies, A Narrative of Major General Wool’s Campaign in Mexico, in the Years 1846, 1847 & 1848 (Albany, Little, 1851; reprint, Austin: Jenkins, 1975), 11. Earlier works on Texas history by Anglo Americans had already articulated this thesis. See, e.g., C[hester] Newell, History of the Revolution in Texas, Particularly of the War of 1835 & ’36; Together with the Latest Geographical, Topographical, and Statistical Accounts of the Country, from the Most Authentic Sources (New York: Wiley & Putnam, 1838), 13-14; L. T. Pease, Ä Geographical and Historical View of Texas; with a Detailed Account of the Texian Revolution and War,”in John M. Niles, History of South America and Mexico; Comprising Their Discovery, Geography, Politics, Commerce, and Revolutions (Hartford: H. Huntington, 1838), 1:252-54; William Kennedy, Texas: The Rise, Progress, and Prospects of the Republic of Texas (London: R. Hastings, 1841; reprint, Fort Worth: Molyneaux Craftsmen, 1925), 233-34; Arthur Ikin, Texas: Its History, Topography, Agriculture, Commerce, and General Statistics. To Which Is Added, a Copy of the Treaty of Commerce Entered into by the Republic of Texas and Great Britain. Designed for the Use of the British Merchant, and as a Guide to Emigrants (London: Sherwood, Gilbert, and Piper, 1841), 1.
  2. [11]Western Texan (San Antonio), 14 October 1852. See also San Antonio Ledger, 15 September 1853; San Antonio Daily Herald, 15 July 1858. Contemporary scholars have critiqued the tendency of religious and secular historians to present this one-sided perspective of Mexican decline followed by Anglo-American redemption. See, e.g., Gilberto M. Hinojosa, “The Enduring Hispanic Faith Communities: Spanish and Texas Church Historiography,” Journal of Texas Catholic History and Culture 1 (March 1990), 20-41; Robert E. Wright, “Local Church Emergence and Mission Decline: The Historiography of the Catholic Church in the Southwest During the Spanish and Mexican Periods,” U.S. Catholic Historian 9 (Winter/Spring 1990), 27-48.

Revolutionaries and Mutualistas (De Leon, “Corridors North, 1900-1930”)

From “Corridors North, 1900-1930.”


[…] The most prominent case of revolutionary activity in Texas against Diáz involved the aforementioned Ricardo Flores Magón and his PLM, which intrigued to remove the Mexican dictator in the hope of implementing significant changes that would, among other things, bring relief to the lower classes through land reform and prolabor polices.[37] PLM newspapers in the years before the Mexican Revolution were located in San Antonio, Del Rio, and El Paso,[38] and through Regeneración, the PLM’s primary journalistic organ, Magón appealed to Tejano workers who identified with their comrades in the homeland or were dissatisfied with job conditions in the state. Though it is difficult to measure the ideological impact of the PLM, the party had followers as deep as Central Texas. The PLM local “Tierra y Libertad” of Austin, for instance, organized an impressive rally in Uhland, Texas, on Labor Day of 1912, which roughly one thousand people from other PLM chapters in Central Texas attended. After inspirational speeches that urged societal changes in Mexico and the United States, delegates dispersed to campaign in their own communities for the goals of the PLM.[39] In actuality, most immigrants in the early twentieth century stayed out of movements that appeared to be radical for fear of jeopardizing their work or risking extradition, though some did participate in the labor struggles of the era.[40]

The PLM also exhorted women to join its ranks and fight on behalf of workers and women’s emancipation. Indeed, women members of the PLM participated as speakers and fundraisers in forums and rallies held in El Paso, Brownsville, and Zapata and Frio Counties on the eve of the Mexican Revolution. Among the PLM’s several women activists was Sara Estela Ramírez, mentioned in the previous chapter.[41]



Mutual aid societies first appeared among Texas Mexicans in the 1870s, but they proliferated with the coming of the Immigrant Generation and by the 1920s could be found in most regions of the state including the Big Bend and North Texas. Such organizations grew out, in part, in reaction to the afflictions many Tejanos experienced at the hands of [76] white society: public humiliation, violence, and poverty, to list only the most salient. Despite their root cause, mutualist societies tended to be nonconfrontational, concentrating instead on improving conditions for their members and other working-class people, assisting members in financial distress, especially after the death of a loved one, and job placement. They also attempted to uplift their compatriots through intellectual and spiritual stimulation, social camaraderie, and through the creation and maintenance of a congenial and familiar environment in an adopted world.[43]

Several characteristics marked these societies as a product of the immigrants temperament, though membership usually included U.S. Mexicans. First, they promoted a Mexicanist identity and cultivated what historian Emilio Zamora, a student of Texas-Mexican labor in the early twentieth century, calls an “ethic of mutuality,” committed as they were to such ideals as fellowship, humanitarianism, and reciprocity.[44] Generally, the societies carried the name of a national hero from Mexico such as Benito Juárez. Members preferred to use Spanish when conducting business. Organizers emphasized Mexican ideals and values and held reservations about assimilation and integration into a racist society, though they were not opposed to joining the American mainstream on an equal basis.[45]

Because of similar concerns, obreros (laborers) founded labor mutualistas (mutual aid societies). Shunned by the American Federation of Labor–which had, as mentioned, made some gestures towards incorporating Mexicans, though it began to look upon them as strike-breakers–and Mexican consuls who feared alienating the United States government, immigrant laborers looked to the customs of Mexico, where craftsmen were organized into mutualistas. In San Antonio, for instance, bakers founded the Sociedad Morelos Mutua de Panaderos which struck for decent wages and working conditions in 1917.[46]

Women participated in mutualistas as officers and committee heads and even founders. For example, María L. Hernández and her husband Pedro of San Antonio, Texas, organized the Orden Caballeros de América in 1929 to help solve educational problems for Tejanos and to promote civic and political activism beneficial to Mexicans, whether native or foreign born.[47] Still, scholars today disagree on the roles women played in these mutualistas. Like men, some joined for self-protection and probably did not advocate a feminist agenda. However, some of the middle-class [77] participants did assail the double standard and urged women in general to take stands against the consumption of alcohol, war, and the subordination of women.[48]

Arnoldo de Leon, Mexican Americans in Texas, 74-76

  1. [37]Zamora, “Mexican Labor Activity,” pp. 76-77; Zamora, World of the Mexican Worker in Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1993), p. 140; Juan Gómez-Quiñones, Sembradores: Ricardo Flores Magón and the Partido Liberal Mexicano (Los Angeles: Chicano Studies Research Center, 1976), p. 29.
  2. [38]Gómez-Quiñones, Sembradores, pp. 29, 35-36.
  3. [39]Zamora, World of the Mexican Worker in Texas, p. 147.
  4. [40]García, Mexican Americans, p. 175.
  5. [41]Marta Cotera, Diosa y Hembra (Austin: Information Systems Development, 1976), pp. 65-66; Gómez-Quiñones, Sembradores, p. 36; Rodolfo F. Acuña, Occupied America: A History of Chicanos (3rd ed.; New York: Harper and Row, 1988), p. 151.
  6. [43]Lowrey, “Night School in Little Mexico,” pp. 39-40; John Ernest Gregg, “The History of Presidio County” (M.A. Thesis, University of Texas, 1933), pp. 201-202; De León, Ethnicity in the Sunbelt, p. 33; Zamora, World of the Mexican Worker in Texas, p. 93; Calderón, “Mexican Politics in the American Era,” Chapter 10.
  7. [44]Zamora, World of the Mexican Worker in Texas, pp. 99-100.
  8. [45]García, Mexican Americans, p. 28
  9. [46]Pycior, “La Raza Organizes,” pp. 126-127, 128, 130, 132, 134, 136; Acuña, Occupied America, p. 170.
  10. [47]Cotera, Diosa y Hembra, p. 73; Pycior, “La Raza Organizes,” pp. 76-81.
  11. [48]Pycior, “La Raza Organizes,” p. 76.

“Fiestas patrias celebrations … [and] various kinds of entertainment nurtured ‘mexico de afuera'” (De Leon)

From “Corridors North, 1900-1930.”

Habitually, the immigrants also used Mexico as a compass for proper behavior. Journalists advised parents, for example, to teach children the ways of propriety, to make sure that they abide by United States law, and to instill in them racial pride. Cultural and recreative clubs emphasized the need for the preservation of Mexico’s good name, as well as its customs and traditions. Fiestas patrias celebrations, which went back to [74] the 1820s in Texas, became yearly rituals for the display of allegiance.[32] Various kinds of entertainment nurtured “méxico de afuera” (Mexico in the United States). Theatrical presentations were provided by companies relocated to Texas because of the Mexican Revolution, and the music popular in northern Mexico (such as the accordion-led ensemble called the conjunto) was diffused by the newcomers throughout the state.[33] The Immigrant Generation proclaimed the concept of “Mexican” proudly and patriotically upheld the honor of the homeland.

Conversely, many of the recent immigrants held denigrating views towards the United States and even Mexican Americans, who, despite their efforts to Americanize, were still treated as second-class citizens by white society. Recent immigrants singled out the women, criticizing them for mimicking American customs and fashions. The newcomers referred derisively to Tejanos who adopted American habits as pochos.[34]

Arnoldo de Leon, Mexican Americans in Texas, 73-74.

  1. [32]De León, Ethnicity in the Sunbelt, pp. 33-34, 37, 38; Lowrey, “Night School in Little Mexico,” p. 39.
  2. [33]Nick Kanellos, “Two Centuries of Hispanic Theatre in the Southwest,” Revista Chicano-Riqueña, XI (Spring 1983), 23-25, 35; Nick Kanellos, A History of Hispanic Theatre in the United States (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990), pp. 180-181, 198, 199-200; Manuel Peña, The Texas Mexican Conjunto: History of a Working Class Music (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985), pp. 29, 35-36, 38.
  3. [34]Manuel Gamio, Mexican Immigration to the United States (New York: Arno Press, 1969), p. 129.

“In the 1920s courts refused to hear cases involving Mexican Americans attempting to sue whites.” (De Leon)

While the earlier generation of Tejanos had established societies and associations to protect members of the community from injustices, in the 1920s, a new generation of activists founded organizations designed to afford Tejanos a greater integration into national life. Such was the intent of the Orden Hijos de America (Order of Sons of America), founded in San Antonio in October 1921. Compared to precursor groups, the OSA consisted of members born in the United States, extolled loyalty to America, and sought citizen rights through institutional channels. Soon, Sons of America chapters appeared in South Texas from Corpus Christi to Brownsville to Pearsall, fighting for educational [93]  equality, the desegregation of public places, the right to serve on juries, and the right to bring suit against a white person (in the 1920s courts refused to hear cases involving Mexican Americans attempting to sue whites).[44]

Arnoldo de Leon, Mexican Americans in Texas, 93-94.


  1. [44]Christian, “Joining the American Mainstream,” p. 589, 590, Hernández, Mutual Aid for Survival, p. 73.

“lawyers for Mexican Americans moved away from the old claim that Mexican Americans were white people” — Cisneros and Civil Rights Law (de Leon)

But newer middle-class organizations also surfaced out of el movimiento, among them the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), founded in 1968. Funded by government grants and private corporations, MALDEF–reflecting a posture between the old guard from the Mexican American Generation and the newer militancy–worked through the courts to protect Mexican-American rights. It assailed, for instance, practices that marred equal educational opportunities, such as discriminatory school funding or continued segregation. In so doing, it took several cases into the courts, among the most famous being Cisneros v. Corpus Christi Independent School District (1970).[13]

As school officials utilized the accepted Mexican-American classification of “white” as a subterfuge in school desegregation and continued the pattern of excluding Mexican Americans from Anglo schools, lawyers for Mexican Americans moved away from the old claim that Mexican Americans were white people. Attorneys adopted the position that Mexican Americans must be recognized as an “identifiable ethnic group.” This new categorization would circumvent the ploy used by Anglo-controlled school boards of using Tejanos (classified as white) to “integrate” certain schools. The Mexican-American community was gratified when in June 1970, a federal district judge ruled that Mexican Americans could be considered an identifiable ethnic minority and that the equal protection of the law guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment applied to them. Though the case was appealed, in 1973 the United States Supreme Court acknowledged the separate legal status of Mexican Americans. For MALDEF, the decision provided an important legal mechanism for its desegregation cases.[14]

Arnoldo de Leon, Mexican Americans in Texas, 129.

(footnotes to follow)

  1. [13]San Miguel, “Let All of Them Take Heed,” pp. 177-181; García, Chicanismo, p. 11.
  2. [14]San Miguel, “Let All of Them Take Heed,” pp. 177-181. Guadalupe San Miguel, Jr., “Mexican American Organizations and the Changing Politics of School Desegregation in Texas, 1945-1980,” Social Science Quarterly, 63 (December, 1982), 710.

Possible contemporary sources on genetic diversity, composition of mestizo Mexican population


Analysis of genomic diversity in Mexican Mestizo populations to develop genomic medicine in Mexico


Mexico is developing the basis for genomic medicine to improve healthcare of its population. The extensive study of genetic diversity and linkage disequilibrium structure of different populations has made it possible to develop tagging and imputation strategies to comprehensively analyze common genetic variation in association studies of complex diseases. We assessed the benefit of a Mexican haplotype map to improve identification of genes related to common diseases in the Mexican population. We evaluated genetic diversity, linkage disequilibrium patterns, and extent of haplotype sharing using genomewide data from Mexican Mestizos from regions with different histories of admixture and particular population dynamics. Ancestry was evaluated by including 1 Mexican Amerindian group and data from the HapMap. Our results provide evidence of genetic differences between Mexican subpopulations that should be considered in the design and analysis of association studies of complex diseases. In addition, these results support the notion that a haplotype map of the Mexican Mestizo population can reduce the number of tag SNPs required to characterize common genetic variation in this population. This is one of the first genomewide genotyping efforts of a recently admixed population in Latin America.


Admixture and population structure in Mexican-Mestizos based on paternal lineages

Gabriela Martínez-Cortés, Joel Salazar-Flores, Laura Gabriela Fernández-Rodríguez, Rodrigo Rubi-Castellanos, Carmen Rodríguez-Loya, Jesús Salvador Velarde-Félix, José Franciso Muñoz-Valle, Isela Parra-Rojas andHéctor Rangel-Villalobos

In the nonrecombining region of the Y-chromosome, there are single-nucleotide polymorphisms (Y-SNPs) that establish haplogroups with particular geographical origins (European, African, Native American, etc.). The complex process of admixture that gave rise to the majority of the current Mexican population (~93%), known as Mestizos, can be examined with Y-SNPs to establish their paternal ancestry and population structure. We analyzed 18 Y-SNPs in 659 individuals from 10 Mexican-Mestizo populations from different regions of the country. In the total population sample, paternal ancestry was predominately European (64.9%), followed by Native American (30.8%) and African (4.2%). However, the European ancestry was prevalent in the north and west (66.7–95%) and, conversely, Native American ancestry increased in the center and southeast (37–50%), whereas the African ancestry was low and relatively homogeneous (0–8.8%). Although this paternal landscape concurs with previous studies based on genome-wide SNPs and autosomal short tandem repeats (STRs), this pattern contrasts with the maternal ancestry, mainly of Native American origin, based on maternal lineages haplogroups. In agreement with historical records, these results confirm a strong gender-biased admixture history between European males and Native American females that gave rise to Mexican-Mestizos. Finally, pairwise comparisons and analysis of molecular variance tests demonstrated significant population structure (FST=4.68%; P<0.00005), delimiting clusters that were geographically defined as the following: north–west, center–south and southeast.

Comes with this image of the data: