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Naturalizing Mexican Immigrants

Naturalizing Mexican Immigrants

By MARTHA MENCHACA
Copyright Date: 2011
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/725577
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    Naturalizing Mexican Immigrants
    Book Description:

    During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a majority of the Mexican immigrant population in the United States resided in Texas, making the state a flashpoint in debates over whether to deny naturalization rights. As Texas federal courts grappled with the issue, policies pertaining to Mexican immigrants came to reflect evolving political ideologies on both sides of the border.

    Drawing on unprecedented historical analysis of state archives, U.S. Congressional records, and other sources of overlooked data,Naturalizing Mexican Immigrantsprovides a rich understanding of the realities and rhetoric that have led to present-day immigration controversies. Martha Menchaca's groundbreaking research examines such facets as U.S.-Mexico relations following the U.S. Civil War and the schisms created by Mexican abolitionists; the anti-immigration stance that marked many suffragist appeals; the effects of the Spanish American War; distinctions made for mestizo, Afromexicano, and Native American populations; the erosion of means for U.S. citizens to legalize their relatives; and the ways in which U.S. corporations have caused the political conditions that stimulated emigration from Mexico.

    The first historical study of its kind,Naturalizing Mexican Immigrantsdelivers a clear-eyed view of provocative issues.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-72998-8
    Subjects: Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Maps and Figures (pp. x-x)
  5. Acknowledgments (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Introduction (pp. 1-14)

    The aim of this book is to examine the naturalization history of Mexican immigrants in Texas. A large body of literature exists on Mexican immigration, yet the study of their incorporation as U.S. citizens has been largely neglected. I seek to understand how Mexican immigrants became incorporated as citizens of the United States and to explore their exodus from one country and entry to another. My work is strategically situated in Texas because of methodological and historical constraints. To conduct a historical analysis of the Mexican’s naturalization process it was necessary to focus on one state because most naturalization records...

  7. CHAPTER 1 From the Making of the U.S.-Mexico Border to the U.S. Civil War (pp. 15-51)

    The U.S. Congress passed its first Naturalization Act in 1790 and chose to allow only white immigrants to become naturalized citizens. This racial stipulation was not nullified until the passage of the Nationality and Immigration Act of 1952 (Hull 1985). Prior to removing the racial clause, Congress did allow certain nonwhite immigrant groups to apply for citizenship. Mexican immigrants were the first to be given an exemption from the nation’s racial naturalization statute, followed soon by black immigrants. These naturalization reforms were the outcome of the U.S. government’s transformation following the U.S. Civil War, when the U.S. Congress began the...

  8. CHAPTER 2 The Politics of Naturalization Policy in Texas: The Case of Mexican Immigrants (pp. 52-108)

    In this chapter I examine the naturalization history of the Mexican-origin population in Texas from 1848 to 1892. I explore the social and political events that prompted Mexican immigrants to migrate to the United States and also consider how Mexicans were received in Texas, arguing that the political atmosphere of the period influenced whether they were granted or denied U.S. citizenship. During the U.S. Civil War and in the first years of Reconstruction Mexican immigrants were granted citizenship at an astonishing rate, a phenomenon that was not replicated at any time in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

    Before the...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Ricardo Rodriguez and the People’s Party in the 1890s (pp. 109-159)

    During the 1890s a growing political movement in Texas sought to bar people of Mexican origin from obtaining U.S. citizenship. The movement was led by the People’s Party but was strongly supported by Republicans and some Democrats. Few Democratic politicians formed alliances with the People’s Party, and many who did were motivated by nativist or Populist ideals. The most fervent Democratic allies came from voting districts in west or South Texas, where the voting constituencies were ethnically mixed. In many of these districts it was difficult to get elected without the support of Mexican voters, and some politicians considered this...

  10. CHAPTER 4 From the Spanish-American War to the Outbreak of the Mexican Revolution (pp. 160-205)

    Judge Maxey’s ruling in favor of Ricardo Rodriguez indisputably clarified the political status of people of Mexican descent under U.S. law: they could not be denied U.S. citizenship on the basis of race. Although the Rodriguez case was a legal triumph for people of Mexican descent in its protection of their voting rights, Mexican immigrants in Texas nearly stopped applying for U.S. citizenship. In this chapter I explore the circumstances that led to the decline in Mexicans’ applications and continue to examine the political status of Mexican immigrants in Texas. The discussion will be set in the context of political...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Mexican Women and Naturalization: The Era of the Woman Suffrage Movement (pp. 206-259)

    Throughout this narrative I have advanced an analysis of the naturalization history of Mexican immigrants in Texas and examined why obtaining citizenship was closely intertwined with electoral politics. Following this thematic approach, I examine here the woman suffrage movement in Texas because in 1918 a new chapter in the Mexicans’ naturalization history began. When women gained the right to vote in Texas, Mexican women who were naturalized or had filed intention papers became important political actors.

    Unfortunately, although the extension of suffrage to women was a landmark event, in Texas this history is blemished, as within this story there is...

  12. CHAPTER 6 Then and Now: The Path Toward Citizenship (pp. 260-312)

    In this chapter I analyze the political process Mexican immigrants currently undergo to become U.S. citizens. I advance a numerical overview of Mexican immigrants’ naturalization rates from 1960 to the present and explore the social conditions that over the years have led them to increasingly pursue a path toward citizenship. Unlike other parts of this book, this chapter focuses on Mexican immigrants in general, although I also discuss the particular role of Mexican immigrants in Texas. The macro approach advanced here is employed to highlight major changes in federal legislation and to delineate how, from 1965 to 1976, laws restructured...

  13. APPENDIX 1 Texas Naturalization Records and Archives, Pre-1906 (pp. 313-320)
  14. APPENDIX 2 Persons Naturalized in Texas and by Mexican Origin, 1907–2009 (pp. 321-322)
  15. Abbreviations (pp. 323-324)
  16. Notes (pp. 325-338)
  17. Bibliography (pp. 339-366)
  18. Index (pp. 367-372)