In the matter of Timoteo Andrade:

I was asked to review Patrick D. Lukens’ book (A Quiet Victory for Latin Rights: FDR and the Controversy Over “Whiteness,” Tucson: University of Arizona University Press, 2012) for the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, a review due this summer, 2012. I will also be participating at a conference at Boston College Law School next year, and am pulling together some case files for a panel on race and immigration law. I wanted to read the underlying case that the Lukens book details, In the matter of Timoteo Andrade, a case of naturalization and whether the Indian-blood Mexican Andrade could qualify for US citizenship in the 1930’s. In his first hearing, in 1935, the family evidence and testimony were that Andrade was “50-75 percent Indian blood.” This was the wrong answer, and the judge turned down his petition. The family recalculated that what he had really meant was “two percent.” Under these new, diluted-blood-quantum facts, he was granted citizenship the following year:

Other authorities quoted in such opinion fully sustain the conclusion that where one is half Indian and half Spanish blood he is not entitled to naturalization under the provisions of Section 359, Title 8, of the U.S. Code. A different state of facts is now presented. The father of petitioner has long since died. The mother, Maria Andrade, testified upon the re-hearing before the examiner. While her testimony is somewhat obscure, I think the construction that may be placed upon it is that this petitioner is of little Indian blood; that is about two percent. The petitioner, also, on the second examination, in effect, denied the statements made in the first proceeding that he was 50 to 75 percent of Indian blood. He claimed he was in mistake in this and offers explanation for such mistake. It appears by his statement now made that he has small percent, if any, of Indian blood in him. The examiner makes report to the court: “It is believed that xxx testimony conclusively shows that the petitioner was in error when he stated, at the time of his preliminary examination on March 12, 1935, that he was fifty percent Indian.” The Government has withdrawn its objections herein and recommends that citizenship be granted. Knight, District Judge, In the Matter of Timoteo Andrade, W.D. N.Y. (1936) [unpublished]**

Others, all historians, have written about this interesting case, including: F. Arturo Rosales, Shifting Self Perceptions and Ethnic Consciousness Among Mexicans in Houston 1908–1946, 16 Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies 71-94 (1985); Francisco A. Rosales, ¡Pobre Raza! Violence, Justice, and Mobilization Among México Lindo Immigrants, 1900–1936; Dara Orenstein, Void for Vagueness: Mexicans and the Collapse of Miscegenation Law in California, 74 Pacific Historical Review 367–408 (2005); Natalia Molina, "In a Race All Their Own": The Quest to Make Mexicans Ineligible for U.S. Citizenship, 79 Pacific Historical Review 167-201 (2010) URL:;  Michael Calderón-Zaks, Debated Whiteness amid World Events: Mexican and Mexican American Subjectivity and the U.S.' Relationship with the Americas, 1924–1936, 27 Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 325-359 (2011), . Thus, there are references in Mexican American history, both articles and this new book, the first full-length treatment on this subject, by Arturo Rosales’ PhD dissertation student. (I will not spoil any more of the suspense, so read it for yourselves.) Even Ian Haney Lopez’s wonderful list of the important early cases in White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race did not include Andrade.

As best as I can tell, no immigration scholars other than these historians I have mentioned have cited the case or focused upon the specifics of its backstory. As with many unpublished cases (e.g., Bastrop v. Delgado, etc.), it is obscure and hard to find, which likely accounts for its relative obscurity. In addition, as Lukens points out, there was disagreement in the Administration over almost all the aspects of the case, and officials pushed to keep it from being published in the Federal Reporter (“to avoid making the decision too conspicuous” at 128). With the assistance of Patrick Lukens, I make both cases available here for the first time,* as well as the testimony and petition, and will post them on my UHLC website: . As you see here, I am also posting it on several listservs. May it lie in obscurity no longer.


Your hardworking Research Assistant,

Michael A. Olivas
Professor of Law
University of Houston Law Center

* Attached as zip files:

Citizenship Petition of Timoteo Andrade. Box 24, Petition #24049, Petitions for Naturalization. US District Court for the Western District of New York (Records of the US District Courts of the United States, Record Group 21) National Archives and Records Administration, Northeast Region, New York, NY.

Opinion of District Judge John Knight (December 11, 1935)

Opinion of District Judge John Knight (June 1, 1936)**

Depositions of witnesses during preliminary hearing (filed, June 2, 1936)