- A Quiet Victory for Latino Rights: FDR and the Controversy over "Whiteness."
This carefully argued book considers a subject that is at the intersection of early twentieth-century United States immigration policy, racial politics, and particularly the racial ascription of being Mexican-origin. In A Quiet Victory for Latin Rights, Patrick D. Lukens details an obscure case of naturalization, In the Matter of Timoteo Andrade. In his first hearing, in 1935, the family gave evidence and testimony asserting that Andrade was "50-75 percent Indian blood." The judge denied his petition. Later, the family argued that his Indian blood was only "two percent." With that argument, he was granted citizenship.
Other authors have touched on this interesting case in books and journal articles. Additionally, a number of historians, including Mario T. García, Mae Ngai, Ignacio García, Steven H. Wilson, Clare Sheridan, Neil Foley, and Thomas Guglielmo, have written about the politics of whiteness with regard to Mexican Americans, especially in Texas, without reference to this case. In another stream of Chicano historiography, other scholars, particularly anthropologist Martha Menchaca in Recovering History, Constructing Race: The Indian, Black, and White Roots of Mexican Americans (2002) and also Naturalizing Mexican Immigrants: A Texas History (2011), have zeroed in on the machinery of the United States immigration regime and its racist roots. Legal scholars Ian Haney López, Laura Gómez, and Guadalupe Luna have added substantially to this literature as well.
Although the listing of these works suggests major attention to the case and its larger geopolitical context, Andrade is still quite obscure and Lukens's book constitutes the first full-length treatment of this case and its fascinating backstory. As with many unpublished cases (e.g., Bastrop v. Delgado, etc.), it is hard to find [End Page 326] and read, which likely accounts for its relative obscurity. In addition, as Lukens reveals, there was disagreement within the FDR Administration over almost all aspects of the case, and officials pushed to keep it from being published in the Federal Reporter "to avoid making the decision too conspicuous" (128). The rest of his book lays out in some detail the conflicting politics of the various departments in the FDR Administration. Particularly interesting is its exploration of the 1930 and 1940 U.S. Census designations.