Tuesday, October 25, 2016

First Paragraph

On December 11, 1935, in Buffalo, New York, federal judge John Knight of New York's Western District denied the citizenship petition of three Mexican expatriates named Timoteo Andrade, Porfirio Bravo, and Francisco Velez. Although naturalization petitions are denied almost as a matter of daily routine, in the case of Timoteo Andrade, Judge Knight also wrote a detailed opinion explaining why he had denied the petition. Although all three had been denied, Knight probably focused on Andrade simply because he appeared first in the alphabet. Knight ruled that Andrade was "not a free white person" as defined by Section 359, Title 8, of the United States Code, which allowed that only "aliens being free white persons, [or African]" could be naturalized. He further asserted that not only was Andrade ineligible under existing US naturalization laws, but that most Mexican nationals were also ineligible due to their race. Knight's judgment, therefore, provided the United States with a firm legal definition of the racial status of Mexican natives at a time when world intellectuals were still debating that very issue. 

- From A Quiet Victory for Latino Rights: FDR and the Controversy Over "Whiteness" by Patrick D. Lukens

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