This article traces challenges to Mexicans' legal and racial status by various groups, including federal bureaucrats, nativist organizations, and everyday citizens. Early twentieth-century efforts to make Mexicans ineligible for U.S. citizenship, despite provisions in the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, focused on the premise that Mexicans were neither "black" nor "white"; interest groups and politicians both strove instead to categorize Mexicans as "Indian." These efforts intensified after the 1924 Immigration Act and two Supreme Court decisions, Ozawa v. United States (1922) and United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923), which declared Japanese and Asian Indians ineligible for citizenship because they were not white. Underlying U.S. efforts to resolve Mexican immigration and citizenship issues was the ongoing problem of determining who could be considered white; this concern clashed with positive Mexican understandings of mestizaje.

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