Making Mexico: Legal Nationality, Chinese Race, and the 1930 Population Census

You know what a census is … It is … it is to be patriotic, to make Mexico great.
Emilio Carballido, “The Census”

“Take the census; make the country. Let’s do both together!” “Hacer censos, es hacer Patria. Ayúdenos a hacerlos” cajoled one bold, bright poster in the days before May 15, 1930 when census takers dispersed across Mexico to count its inhabitants. Other placards similarly played on multiple meanings for the verb “hacer”—to make or to do: “Taking a census will make the country …” “Hagamos censos y haremos patria….” At the same time, within that collective nation-building, a census jingle affirmed individual importance: “A census is a count. He who is numbered, counts. And he who counts, succeeds.” “Un censo es una cuenta. El que censa, cuenta. Y el que cuenta, acierta.” In government propaganda, the 1930 census made Mexico and drew its inhabitants into the national fold, an ongoing, delicate project after the fratricide of the 1910 Revolution.[1]

Francisco Gim and Julia Delgado counted in the town of Naco, right on the Sonora-Arizona border.[2] Gim was born in China, Delgado in Mexico.[3] They lived in a free union and had two sons, eight-year-old Francisco and seven-year-old Guillermo.[4] In no small triumph, the entire family could both read and write in Spanish.[5] Gim had legally naturalized as a Mexican citizen, but still spoke Chinese.[6]

Carlos Wong Sun and Juana Ramírez counted in Cucurpe, a much smaller village further to the south.[7] Wong Sun was born in China; Ramírez was born in Mexico.[8] They too lived in a free union, but the census records no children.[9] Like Gim, Wong Sun was literate in Spanish and spoke Chinese; Unlike Gim, however, he remained a Chinese national rather than naturalizing as Mexican.[10]

The official census count of 3,571 Chinese in the state of Sonora in 1930 is a tale of the contested nature of reality, of the reification of race in a census with no question regarding racial identity, of the power and limitations of law to make and unmake citizens, to make the country.[11] In addition to Francisco Gim and Carlos Wong Sun, the count includes the Ley Chi family, the young Chin brothers, Guadalupe Esqueda de Fos and many others, all connected to China in some way, all living in Mexico on May 15, 1930. The simplicity of both the number 3,571 and the noun Chinese belies the complex interactions that combined them in the 1930 Mexican census count: interactions among the counted individuals, front-line census takers, civil service employees, and consumers of official data; among census categories, legal constructs of nationality and marital status, and social constructions of race. Despite direct, catchy slogans in government advertising, making Mexico was not an easy task.

Counting by Nationality, Officially Eliding Race

In its nation-building effort, the 1930 Mexican census purported to count individuals by nationality, not by race. Thus, the count of 3,571 Chinese in Sonora should include only those individuals with Chinese nationality, not individuals who were Mexican nationals of Chinese descent. For purposes of the census, race did not exist. Mexican nationals were Mexican nationals, whatever their race.

Data taken directly from census ballots regarding Chinese men and their families, nonetheless, demonstrate powerful social constructs of identity in contest with the census ballot’s elision of race in the making of Mexico. The census ballot in turn contests other constructions of the Mexican nation, constructions found in the legal categories of nationality and marital status explicitly referenced on the census ballot. Analysis of the count of Chinese in Sonora demonstrates the difficulties individuals, census enumerators, and civil service employees in the National Statistics Department had in making Mexico through numbering its inhabitants as they struggled to separate notions of race and patrilineage from the legal category of nationality. In the end, the count of Chinese is problematic because it mixes notions of race and nationality, and accurately counts neither. Although it purports not to, by referencing and reifying race rather than strictly counting by nationality, the 1930 census transforms some Mexicans into Chinese. Thus it challenges both the power of law to make citizens and the ease with which race can be officially discounted in government-sponsored, nation-building endeavors.

This exploration of race and citizenship, identity and nation, builds on significant scholarship done in the United States that uses judicial case law, administrative actions, and law enforcement decisions of civil service employees as primary data sources.[12] As a country more deeply steeped in the civil law tradition rather than Anglo-American common-law, Mexico offers an opportunity to understand the indeterminacy of law in a system where positive law is most usually found in legislation and more rarely in judicial decisions.[13] Even with its substantially different legal tradition, the Mexican context reinforces the complex contest identified in the U.S. scholarship among law, administrative categories, bureaucracy, and social constructs to create and mold the ultimately fluid concepts of race, citizenship, and nation. Likewise, with a population census as the primary data source, the interaction at issue is not one of formal law enforcement, or allocation of specific benefits, or legal challenge, but one where making the nation—being classified and counted—is subtle. The census was a precise moment when individuals, enumerators, and civil service supervisors sought to make the nation through taking a count, a count that recorded individual identity in a way law, society, and the census survey form recognized.

In the United States, the Constitution mandates a decennial population count for purposes of political representation.[14] The 1917 Mexican Constitution likewise based political representation in the lower Chamber of Deputies on population, but presupposed a census rather than mandating that one take place at specified intervals: “One deputy shall be elected for each 60,000 inhabitants … taking account of the general census of the Federal District and that of each state and territory.”[15] Thus, the census in Mexico occurred as a matter of political, legislative, and social will rather than constitutional requirement.[16] The value of political representation at the federal level remained in the background as national propaganda and presidential decree emphasized the participatory, social value of making Mexico through the 1930 census. On June 12, 1929, a presidential decree formally invoked “the social utility of the population census.”[17] The decree commanded the public “to cooperate voluntarily” in the census, imposed stiff penalties on those who did not, and assured that the census data was strictly confidential and would only be used for statistical purposes.[18]

Sonora in Mexico, Chinese in Sonora

Two historical elements justify this study’s focus on Chinese in Sonora. First, Sonora and Sonorans were vitally important to the making of twentieth-century Mexico, both politically and legally. Second, Sonora hosted the largest population of any Mexican state through the 1920s even while discrimination against Chinese was particularly severe there.

During the 1910 Revolution, Sonora served as an important staging ground for revolutionary forces.[19] Venustiano Carranza used Hermosillo, Sonora’s capital, as his military headquarters.[20]Álvaro Obregón gathered military forces in the state that then swept violently across western Mexico in 1914.[21] Sonora’s strategic importance and Sonorans’ revolutionary leadership translated into significant political power in the formation of the 1917 Constitution and near hegemony in national leadership through the 1920s.[22] All three Mexican presidents from 1920 to 1928—Adolfo de la Huerta, Álvaro Obregón, and Plutarco Elías Calles—hailed from Sonora.[23] De la Huerta and Calles had both previously served as governors of Sonora.[24] Although the issue is certainly more complex, one historian states simply: in 1920 “the Sonorans took control of the nation” to reform and remake it as they had Sonora.[25]

At the same time, Sonora hosted the largest Chinese population of any Mexican state through the 1920s.[26] Chinese immigration to Mexico skyrocketed between 1895 and 1926, with the population growing from a little over a thousand to more than 24,000.[27] However, by 1940, the Chinese population in Mexico had shrunk to under 5,000,[28] a sad testament to the discrimination Chinese faced throughout Mexico and most severely in Sonora.

Despite the promise that “he who is numbered, counts; he who counts, succeeds,” the census enumerators in Naco, Cucurpe, and other towns across Sonora could not record on census ballots, much less correct, the discrimination Francisco Gim, Carlos Wong Sun, and fellow Chinese faced on a daily basis. Although the 1930 census propaganda urged all to hacer Patria, to make the nation, in the official view, Chinese tended to deshacer Patria, to unmake or undo the nation instead. The federal Romero Commission, organized by President Porfirio Díaz in 1903, reported in 1911 that Chinese immigration posed a significant threat to Mexican society because Chinese were unlikely—indeed unable—to assimilate, were temporary migrants rather than permanent settlers, and engaged in unfair economic practices that impeded integration of indigenous peoples into the national polity.[29] Another federal government report in 1930 reinforced a disturbing, violent image of Chinese migration as “an invasion in a conquered country,”[30] an invasion that subjugated rather than created Mexico.

Similarly, at the state level, rather than viewing the economic and social activities of Chinese as contributing to the making of Mexico, Sonoran officials perceived Chinese success as threatening, as impeding the opportunities of authentic Mexicans. In the 1920s, the state legislature created Chinese ghettos, limited the business and employment opportunities of Chinese, and passed health and hygiene laws directed at the supposedly inferior practices of the Chinese.[31] Sonora prohibited Chinese men from employing racially preferred women.[32] Like a multitude of U.S. states, in 1923, Sonora passed a pointed anti-miscegenation law: Chinese men were forbidden to marry or live with Mexican women.[33] Sonora’s legislative efforts sought to redirect resources—economic, social, and sexual—to native Mexicans. The near collapse of the Sonoran economy after the 1931 expulsion of Chinese testifies to their economic importance.[34] In reality, Chinese absence unmade Sonora in the mid-1930s.

Chinese men challenged Mexican gender norms as well: they engaged in work traditionally reserved for women and undercut Mexican masculinity. José María Arana, a zealous anti-Chinese crusader in Sonora, derided Chinese men’s labor in laundries and in stores as “the work of women and male prostitutes.”[35] In a nationalist speech that helped fuel the massacre of more than three hundred Chinese in Torreón, Coahuila in 1911, a local revolutionary leader, Jesus Flores, accused Chinese of doing “the work the Mexican women ought to do” and thus robbing women of respectable employment.[36] As Gerardo Réñique has argued, anti-Chinese campaigns highlighted the threat to “Sonoran masculine honor” that Chinese men allegedly posed: they easily and cheaply seduced even respectable, married Mexican women and created “a permanent ‘stain of dishonor'” in their Chinese/Mexican children.[37] Gendered perceptions of appropriate work, male/female relations, and racial purity contributed to the unsettling nature of the Chinese presence in Mexico.

Eighteen months after the census, prejudice against Chinese in Sonora culminated in their violent expulsion from the state, allegedly under secret instructions from Governor Rodolfo Calles, son of Plutarco Elías Calles, the former Mexican president.[38] Although U.S. exclusion laws were still in effect, Mexican police dumped Chinese across the border into Arizona.[39] Some men returned to China with their Mexican-born wives and children.[40] Some dispersed to other states in Mexico where discrimination existed but was hopefully less intense.[41] Francisco Gim ended up nearly a thousand miles away in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas.[42] Carlos Wong Sun disappeared from the official record. Nine years later, the 1940 Mexican population census measured the tragic effectiveness of the 1931 expulsion. In 1940, only ninety-two Chinese resided in Sonora—eighty-eight men and four women—more than two thirds of whom had acquired Mexican nationality.[43] Individually counted in 1930 as the census promised, Chinese did not succeed in Sonora.

There is no direct evidence that Sonoran officials used the raw census data or individual census ballots to facilitate the expulsion of Chinese in 1931. Still, it is easy to imagine that the knowledge an individual census enumerator gained regarding the location of Chinese populations might have facilitated discrimination against them, particularly where groups of Chinese lived in the same neighborhoods as they did in Naco, Cucurpe, and many other pueblos. Even after the census ballots had been sent off to Mexico City for tabulation, a census enumerator or supervisor who remembered the general location of Chinese populations would have possessed valuable information that racist groups and government officials could easily have exploited.

Before the census took place, the possibility that its data might be misused elicited national concern. The June 6, 1929 presidential decree that cloaked census answers in confidentiality also created a penalty for its breach: a 2,000 peso fine and/or one and a half years in jail.[44] Nonetheless, nothing in the official government publications memorializing the census indicates that the Mexican government ever imposed such a fine or jail term on anyone. Although the lack of data could mean that no one ever breached confidentiality, it seems more likely that the penalty simply was not enforced, particularly given that the census involved face-to-face encounters between enumerators and their neighbors with the concomitant temptation to share and gossip.

Contested Constructions of the Nation

The 1930 Mexican census ballots provide a window into multiple levels of interaction in making a nation through taking a census, interaction among the counted individuals, census enumerators, and civil service employees of the Department of Census, as they engaged in the process that identified 3,571 Chinese in Sonora.[45] The ballots do not, of course, tell us exactly what happened on that bright day in May 1930 or after—who said what, who objected, who insisted—but they reveal elaborate efforts to fit individuals into pre-determined census categories, to accommodate perceived reality with legally sanctioned ordering, an ordering that sought to reconstruct the Mexican nation after the 1910 Revolution.

The census categories set forth on the ballot create a particular reality, a vision of the nation, as much as they represent it, especially where what is counted are social and legal constructs such as race and nationality rather than simple physical existence. In at least two ways, a census highlights the complex contest among different articulations of the nation. First, at the individual level, a census requires declarations of supposed facts and then reifies those declarations in the aggregate statistics it collects. Second, the only officially sanctioned representations of fact are those the census form permits. Through the categories it uses, a census privileges its own making of the nation and that of the governmental agency creating the census, at the potential expense of differing legal, social, and individual constructs.

Law similarly makes the nation through the categories it creates. By law, and at times regardless of social perception or individual desire, one may be a citizen, a legal resident, an alien; or married, divorced, widowed, single; or a minor, an adult, a ward of the state. Law may also define race and racial categories. The power of law resides in the collection of data and the reification of aggregate statistics. But beyond these, it resides in the ability of the state to include or exclude, to reward or punish, based on the legal reality the state itself has created.

Census ballots may deploy legal terminology in the counting process. For example, among questions regarding sex, age, and languages spoken, the 1930 Mexican population census also asked a number of questions regarding legal status. Two of the most important for the story at hand are nationality and marital status. The questions regarding marital status recognized a range of possibilities, and thus certain—although clearly not all—complexities of individual lives. On the official ballot, a person could be single or living in a free union or religiously married or civilly married or widowed or divorced. A person could also be both civilly married and religiously married. But the front line data collectors, the census enumerators who filled out the census ballots, received instruction in the census, not in the law. Slippage could easily occur between census categories and the legal constructs they ostensibly represented, particularly given that the census ballot instructed the enumerators to record the declaration of the person counted rather than requiring legal documentation of marital status such as a marriage certificate. Census categories and their underlying legal constructs were mediated both by the census enumerators who applied them and by the counted individuals whose declarations the census enumerators recorded. The population census was a precise moment where social constructions confronted the nation that the census and the law were trying to create.

National Integration and the Relative Invisibility of Chinese

Unlike earlier population censuses, the 1930 Mexican census asked no specific question regarding race; there was no column in which to record any racial data, either by checking a box or writing out a long hand entry. In contrast, the 1921 census asked whether an individual was “pure indigenous, mixed with white, or white” (indígena pura, mezclada con blanca, blanca).[46] Likewise, earlier population censuses in 1895, 1900, and 1910 had recorded data on race, although only for Mexican nationals.[47] In those censuses, foreigners were distinguished from Mexicans only by legal nationality, not by race.[48] Mexican population censuses after 1930 continued to ask solely about an individual’s nationality rather than her race.[49] By dropping racial classifications in 1930, Mexico joined the half of Latin American countries that did not investigate race in their early twentieth-century population censuses.[50]

The National Statistics Department explained its decision to eliminate the race question from the 1930 census ballot as the result of Mexico’s post-Revolutionary legal and social transformation. Mexico was a new nation. The Department presented itself as responding to an already present reality of racial integration and harmony, rather than creating that reality or at the very least articulating a national aspiration. The Department argued that data on race in 1930 was no longer useful for several reasons: 1) neither law nor society isolated and stigmatized indigenous groups as in the past; 2) the degree of intermarriage among “different indigenous groups, mestizos, criollos, and foreigners” was extraordinarily high; and 3) social stratification in Mexico, particularly after the 1910 Revolution, no longer followed “ethnic categories but rather economic class.”[51] In the Department’s view, race was primarily about national integration. Where integration had largely occurred, asking about race was unnecessary and potentially divisive for the nation. Asking about race could unmake the nation. The discussion regarding national integration and race focused largely on the inclusion of indigenous groups, with only brief mention of foreigners, whose integration was apparently not as vital or problematic.[52] Foreign nationals were not obviously part of Mexico, despite the Mexican government’s undifferentiated plea to all to be counted.

The Department’s justification for eliminating race from the 1930 census did not address the quandary a naturalized Mexican of Chinese extraction might have faced when confronting the 1921 census ballot. In the nationality category, he could declare himself Mexican but what should he check in the race category? White meant of Spanish or European extraction, but he certainly wasn’t indigenous or indigenous mixed with white. In Mexico and much of Latin America, racial categories and their intricate combinations in las castas or castes historically revolved around mestizaje, or racial mixing, between indigenous peoples, Spanish, and Blacks.[53] Although the specific names and categorizations varied across Latin America, in central and southern Mexico, the child of a Spaniard and an Indian was a mestizo, the child of a mestizo and a Spaniard a castizo, the child of a Spaniard and a Black a mulato, and so forth with ever more distinctive names through numerous generations to arrive at “no te entiendo” (“I don’t understand”) and “alli te estás” (“there you go”).[54] Chinese and other Asian groups were simply not in the picture, with respect to historical castes, the categories in the 1921 census, or the discussion to eliminate race from the 1930 census ballot. In the National Statistics Department’s view, nonetheless, the integration of indigenous peoples and the general success of mestizaje justified the elimination of race as a category in the 1930 population census.

This fundamental focus on national integration of indigenous peoples and race mixing with Europeans as the relevant mestizaje, with an occasional nod to Blacks, permeated contemporary discussions of race in Mexico and subsequent scholarship.[55] In early 1931, for example, before the 1930 census data was tabulated and published but after its collection, politician and writer Luis Cabrera gave a symposium at the Biblioteca Nacional, published in part in the prominent newspaper El Universal, in which he identified four ethnic groups in Mexico—indigenous peoples, mestizos, criollos, and foreigners, the same groups that the National Statistics Department discussed in the census memorial.[56] Cabrera posited that a central social concern of nationhood was to promote ethnic and racial homogeneity, “to dissolve the indigenous element” and to “absorb the criollo element” in the mestizo ideal.[57] Mexico, the nation, was well advanced towards homogeneity because, in Cabrera’s view, “racial prejudice does not exist.”[58] As the National Statistics Department would also contend in the census memorial, Cabrera claimed that stratification in Mexico was “an economic question more than a racial question.”[59] Cabrera’s focus on indigenous/European mestizaje likewise dismissed Asians as an insignificant portion of the population and thus irrelevant to making the nation as a whole even while he admitted Chinese raised “local concerns” in the state of Sonora.[60]

The “Antiscientific” Concept of Race

In addition to its vision of an integrated Mexico with significant mestizaje, the National Statistics Department also justified its decision to eliminate the race question on grounds that collecting data on race was both “antiscientific” and impossible to do accurately.[61] It was absurd to ask census takers, themselves recruited from a wide variety of backgrounds and with variable abilities, to determine the race of an individual when the person being counted most likely knew little regarding the “ethnic characteristics of his grandparents and nothing regarding his great-grandparents.”[62] The National Statistics Department understood race as intrinsically linked with lineage, and, in that sense, with biology. Race was unknowable and unobservable, at least not accurately, without knowledge of an individual’s extended parentage. On the one hand, the Department’s position denied the scientific reality of race: it was an “antiscientific” concept. On the other hand, the Department asserted race’s biological reality, if only the tools were available to collect data accurately.

After consulting with “the most competent experts on the subject,” the National Statistics Department decided to suppress (suprimir) the “concept of ‘race'” in the 1930 census form.[63] In the view of the National Statistics Department, although race had not necessarily ceased to exist as biological matter, it had ceased to be of significant social importance in Mexico. Without a count of race, the 1930 Census would represent a transformation of Mexico and Mexicans that had ostensibly already occurred.

The Department considered compensating (en compensación) for the elimination of the race question by amplifying linguistic questions, also seen as a measure of national integration.[64] In the end, in deference to the need to collect other data, the census ballot had a box to check if an individual spoke Spanish and a space to write out any other languages spoken, rather than the full panoply of questions that had originally been proposed regarding the linguistic environment.[65] In measuring national integration, however, the limited linguistic category did not fully compensate for the elimination of the racial category.

Race, Eugenics, and Mestizaje: National and International Context

The National Statistics Department’s decision to eliminate race from the 1930 census and the national integration of indigenous groups that it proffered as justification for that decision fit well with mestizaje as “the unofficial ideology of the Mexican state in the 1920s and early 1930s,” to use Nancy Leys Stepan’s terms.[66] Gerardo Réñique, Agustín Basave Benítez, and Alan Knight have likewise emphasized the cultural and intellectual currency of the mestizo ideal in constructing Mexico as a nation-state in the 1920s.[67]

In her seminal book, Stepan explores the specific articulation of race and eugenics in Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina in contrast to their development in the United States and Europe in the early twentieth century. Although Stepan does not discuss the 1930 Mexican population census, the work of the National Statistics Department, or legal and census categories as such, her work provides social context for the elimination of the race question from the census ballot. Race and eugenic thought in Mexico in the early twentieth century developed around ideas of “constructive miscegenation” or positive race mixing rather than the strict racial separation that was increasingly prevalent in the United States and Europe.[68] Stepan also points out that eugenics in Mexico and concerns regarding racial fitness developed most conspicuously in the 1930s[69] and thus after the 1930 census was conducted.The National Statistics Department’s decision to eliminate race from the 1930 census and the national integration of indigenous groups that it proffered as justification for that decision fit well with mestizaje as “the unofficial ideology of the Mexican state in the 1920s and early 1930s,” to use Nancy Leys Stepan’s terms.[66] Gerardo Réñique, Agustín Basave Benítez, and Alan Knight have likewise emphasized the cultural and intellectual currency of the mestizo ideal in constructing Mexico as a nation-state in the 1920s.[67]

The National Statistics Department’s reasoning regarding race on the census ballot echoed ascendant, if still controversial, constructions of race and nationality in Mexico in the 1920s. Among others, José Vasconcelos—rector of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, minister of education, and prominent essayist and editor—presented mestizaje as the racial ideal.[70] Vasconcelos posited the development of a fifth race, a superior “raza cósmica,”—a cosmic race—through the continuing mixing of black, red, yellow, and white races already present in Latin America.[71] In the creation of a cosmic race, Vasconcelos argued for a “mysterious eugenics of aesthetic desire” wherein the most desirable individuals of each race would seek mates equally as intelligent, beautiful, and healthy, whatever their race.[72] Inferior members of each race would have vanishing opportunities to reproduce; inferior races would likewise become less prolific as their more desirable members improved themselves and their children through strategic miscegenation.[73] For Vasconcelos, like the National Statistics Department, race revolved around reproductive biology and lineage.

Vasconcelos defined la raza cósmica as developing from continued reproductive mixing, but his vision of the power of racial mixing went further to challenge the nation-state itself.[74] Vasconcelos found little value or hope in the fractured polity of Latin American nations and nationalism; Latin America would be stronger and better if its various countries were united, just as its racial stock united.[75] In contrast, the National Statistics Department and the 1930 census were firmly rooted in constructs of the nation-state; taking the census was to make the nation. The Department eliminated race as a point of inquiry in the 1930 census because of wide-spread mestizaje, but retained a question about nationality, an individual’s formal legal inclusion in Mexico as a nation.

The decision to eliminate the race question in the 1930 Mexican census highlights different understandings of eugenics and race in Mexico and the United States. Some of the “experts” with whom the National Statistics Department consulted in developing the census ballot were in the U.S. Census Bureau.[76] Like Mexico, the United States conducted a population census in 1930. In contrast with Mexico, however, the U.S. census continued to ask about race (and still does). To indicate the race of each individual, 1930 U.S. census takers had to choose among various classifications including white, black, Indian, Chinese, and—for the first time and only time—the “Mexican” race.[77] The instructions given to enumerators for recording Mexican race in column twelve of the 1930 U.S. census ballots recognized mestizaje as important—”Practically all Mexican laborers are of a racial mixture difficult to classify, though usually well recognized in the localities where they are found”—but insisted it was also important to count Mexicans as a separate racial group.[78] The instructions continued “In order to obtain separate figures for this racial group, it has been decided that all person born in Mexico, or having parents born in Mexico, who are not definitely white, Negro, Indian, Chinese, or Japanese, should be returned as Mexican.”[79]

At the same time that the Mexican government eliminated race from its census, the U.S. government officially added Mexican as a racial category to its. While the National Statistics Department’s decision in Mexico can be seen as a recognition of the value of mestizaje and at least a theoretical movement towards a pan-racial Mexican identity or even la raza cósmica, it is difficult to view the U.S. government’s construction of a Mexican race in a similarly inclusive light. Mexico’s action was based on perceived national integration of different groups; the United States stigmatized Mexicans and Mexican-Americans and, in the decade after the 1930 U.S. census, deported large numbers to Mexico without attention to nationality or citizenship.[80] In social context, the National Statistics Department’s view of race as antiscientific (despite its purported biological component) and its vision of a racially integrated nation is remarkably progressive, even if unduly optimistic, especially when compared with the racist movements of Europe and the United States that presented themselves as fundamentally scientific, rational, and natural all while urging racial separation.[81]

The “Fantasy of National Unity”

Clearly, the romanticized portrait of a mestizo ideal, whether offered by Vasconcelos for Latin America as a whole or Cabrera and the National Statistics Department for Mexico specifically, was not reality but a “fantasy of national unity.”[82] Vasconcelos himself admitted that the cosmic race was “a stock in formation.”[83] Moreover, despite the theoretical participation of four extant races in the creation of la raza cósmica, Vasconcelos was particularly harsh regarding Chinese immigration: “…it is not fair that people like the Chinese, who under the sacred counsel of Confucian morals multiply like rats, come to degrade the human condition…. If we reject [Chinese] it is because man, as he progresses, reproduces less and feels the horror of numbers, in the same way he has learned to value quality.”[84] Vasconcelos justified as a measure of economic necessity “closing our ports” to an “unmeasured invasion of Orientals.”[85] Limiting Chinese immigration would limit Chinese participation in the creation of la raza cósmica.

Further, the treatment of Chinese in Sonora belied any sanguinity about racial identification, social stratification, and the reality of a race-free society in Mexico. Even if Luis Cabrera demeaned Chinese as only of local concern, the federal government perceived Chinese migration as of national concern and commissioned various studies to address the alleged threats.[86] At the state level, xenophobic individuals, and the “race defense committees” they organized, fanned the flames of prejudice against the Chinese through vicious propaganda, boycotts of Chinese businesses, and violence; national legislators condemned Chinese; newspaper articles, both in Sonora and nationally, excoriated them.[87] Even while the census data was tabulated, author and xenophobe José Angel Espinoza vigorously insisted that, although the data would be relatively accurate for Mexican citizens and “some foreign races,” Chinese would be seriously undercounted given what he perceived to be motivations to both avoid census enumerators and to lie.[88] As anti-Chinese legislation burgeoned in Sonora, individuals including Francisco Gim and Carlos Wong Sun who were counted in Naco and Cucurpe sought judicial relief from discrimination in federal court, at first with success, later with very little chance at all.[89] The expulsion of Chinese men and their families from Sonora in late 1931 underscored the chimera of national integration and pan-racial Mexican nationality the census purported to record less than two years earlier. Particularly for Chinese in Sonora, the disciplining, governing effect of the 1930 population census, was one of exclusion rather than inclusive nation-building.

In an ironic twist, particularly given the National Statistics Department’s efforts to define the concept of race out of Mexican society, the census marked Chinese men, many of their Mexican-born wives, and some of their children as racial outsiders. Despite the effort to suppress race as a social construct in the census, it crept in through the category of nationality, the legal definer of formal membership in the Mexican nation. As the influential social critic Andrés Molina Enríquez observed in 1909, more than twenty years and a revolution before the 1930 census: “The word country (patria) is not synonymous with race (raza)…. Nonetheless, country and race are often confused, to the point where in common usage, the words race and country become equivalent.”[90]

Determining Legal Nationality

Mexican-born Women in Intimate Relationships with Chinese Men

Determining Mexican nationality in 1930 was an extraordinarily complex legal undertaking, both for Mexican-born women in intimate relationships with Chinese-born men and for their children. From as early as 1854, Mexican law expatriated native-born women who married foreign men.[91] Through the nineteenth century, women’s marital expatriation was affirmed both by the Supreme Court in the 1881 Tavares Sisters’ case and by the Mexican Congress in the 1886 Law of Alienage and Naturalization.[92] After the 1910 Revolution, the 1917 Constitution wrought significant legal changes but made no specific mention of married women’s dependent citizenship. Various legal commentators and government officials, nonetheless, understood the marital expatriation provisions of the 1886 Law of Alienage and Naturalization to continue to govern women’s nationality despite the new Constitution.[93] In 1934, the Mexican Congress explicitly abrogated marital expatriation for Mexican women in Article 4 of a new Law of Nationality and Naturalization; nonetheless, even after 1934, women who had married foreign men still found it necessary to seek from the Supreme Court an official declaration of their Mexican status in order to exercise rights reserved solely to Mexican nationals.[94] From 1854 until at least 1934, Mexican law—both legislative and judicial—expatriated native-born women who civilly married foreign men.

Children Born in Mexico to a Mexican Mother and a Chinese Father

Determining the nationality of a child born in Mexico to a Chinese father and Mexican mother also required a complex legal analysis. First, the applicable law changed considerably between the earliest years of the twentieth century when increasing numbers of Chinese men arrived in Mexico and 1931 when the Chinese were expelled from Sonora. Second, Mexico’s mixture of jus solis and jus sanguinius rules—citizenship based on place of birth and citizenship based on lineage, respectively—complicated the identification of a particular child’s nationality at a given moment.

As with women’s nationality, Mexico’s 1857 Constitution and 1886 Law of Alienage and Naturalization governed children’s nationality prior to 1917. In Article 30, the 1857 Constitution provided Mexican nationality to all those born within Mexican territory, but only as long as their parents were also Mexican nationals. The 1857 Constitution did not expressly address the nationality of a child born in Mexico to a mixed-nationality couple, whether an alien father and Mexican mother or a Mexican father and alien mother, perhaps because it considered such a possibility remote. As long as the father and mother were married, a child would never be born to a mixed-nationality couple because of the married women’s dependent citizenship rules discussed above. Where the father and mother were not married, however, a child could be born to a mixed-nationality couple because an unmarried Mexican mother did not legally follow the nationality of her child’s father.

The 1886 Law regarding Alienage and Naturalization addressed the question in more detail and made clear the patrilineal nature of Mexican citizenship: “Mexicans include: 1) those born in national territory to a father who is Mexican by birth or naturalization.”[95] Mexican mothers were relevant to their children’s nationality only when the father was unknown or not legally recognized.[96] Whatever the mother’s nationality and civil status, the 1886 law presumed that a child born in Mexico to a foreign father was also a foreigner. At the age of majority, the child was supposed to specifically elect her father’s nationality. If she did not explicitly choose, however, the presumption shifted in favor of Mexican nationality; as an adult, she would be considered Mexican.[97] In an explication of the 1886 law, Ignacio Luis Vallarta—a prominent legal scholar, member of the Supreme Court, and drafter of the 1886 law on alienage—considered the patrilineal transmission of citizenship, as opposed to jus solis, “a triumph of international law.”[98] He explained further that patrilineal citizenship prevailed even where children were born out of wedlock, if they were subsequently recognized by their father.[99] Only “hijos espurios”—children born of incest or adultery—and children whose fathers were unknown followed their mother’s nationality.[100]

The presumption regarding patrilineal citizenship—at least until the child reached adulthood—shifted significantly, but not completely, in the 1917 Constitution. By the original Article 30, jus solis prevailed over jus sanguinius: all children born in Mexico, whatever the nationality of their parents, were presumed to be Mexican nationals. But there was one catch—at the age of majority, children born to foreigners were required to formally claim Mexican nationality and implicitly reject the nationality of their parents.[101] As it defined the Mexican nation, the 1917 Constitution moved towards a jus solis model of citizenship for children, but did not entirely eliminate conditions based on parentage.

To summarize a complicated legal situation, when the 1930 census sought to make Mexico in a count by nationality, 1) children thirteen years old or younger and born in Mexico (i.e., after the 1917 Constitution) presumptively held Mexican nationality, whatever the nationality or marital status of their mother or father; 2) assuming that the 1917 Constitution did not apply retroactively, children between the ages of fourteen and the age of majority and born in Mexico were presumptively foreigners if their father was a foreigner.

Census Instructions and Data Collection

Despite the extraordinarily complex and shifting legal definition of Mexican nationality, the instructions provided to census takers and their supervisors, on the census ballot and in official pamphlets, provide no specific guidance on determining who was Mexican and who was not. The instructions printed on each page of the census ballot, to which a census taker could most readily refer when a question arose, imply that, whatever the law, Mexican nationality was obvious: “if the nationality of the individual is Mexican, make a cross in column 23.” In contrast to the visual apparency of Mexicanness, foreignness was better heard than seen. When encountering a foreigner, a census enumerator was to write out the nationality that the individual or his parents, or guardian declared, rather than simply checking a box. Mexicanness could be seen and a box checked; foreignness required a verbal articulation and a longhand entry. The two official instructional handbooks for census enumerators and their supervisors simply repeated the census ballot’s minimal guidance.[102]

In addition to the instructional handbooks, the National Statistics Department provided census takers a few examples of how to fill out the census ballot. The examples are not as helpful as they could have been, however, because they do not explicitly state the governing rule. Rather, the enumerator had to deduce why a particular categorization was correct. Nonetheless, the specific illustrations with respect to men born in China were straight forward: “At Ocampo Street, Number 4, lives a man named Samuel Chin Fu … who was born in China and remains a Chinese national….”[103] Another man named Wan Goo also lived in the same house and raised no difficulties because, like his housemate, he was born in China and remained a Chinese national.[104]

In contrast, the examples given with respect to married women’s citizenship and that of children born in Mexico to foreigners raised as many questions as they answered. How should they be counted? Living in the fictional Lerdo Street No. 12 was a U.S. citizen father whose daughter Laura Smith was born in Mexico. The census example attributed U.S. nationality to Ms. Smith, but how it came to that attribution is less than clear. According to the census example, Ms. Smith was a U.S. national because, although divorced, “she has not renounced the nationality of her husband who was North American.”[105] Implicit, but unexplained, was the dependent nature of married women’s citizenship in Mexican law. To a census taker uninitiated in law, however, the explanation could just as easily have been that Ms. Smith was a U.S. national because her father was. Similarly, Ms. Smith’s young son, born less than a month earlier in Veracruz, Mexico, was also listed as a U.S. national without any explanation. For children born in Mexico to foreign fathers, the census examples followed a patrilineal jus sanguinius rule consistent with the 1886 nationality law despite the 1917 Constitution’s provision for jus solis citizenship.

In another context, scholar John Torpey notes the impossibility of doing what the census required, the “seeing” of Mexicanness: “As an ascribed status, it [nationality] cannot be read off a person’s appearance.”[106] More completely, Torpey observes that visual and audible signs such as skin color or language are inconclusive markers of nationality, although they have often been conflated with it, which is precisely what happened in the 1930 Mexican population census.[107] Molina Enríquez earlier came to the same conclusion regarding country and race, patria and raza. As a legal category, determining nationality or the country to which an individual officially belongs depends on documents—birth certificates, passports, naturalization papers. Mexican census takers, however, were not instructed to ask for documents but trusted to see and hear nationality without them. The official examples did not necessarily help.

Constitutional Vision, Competing Legislation

It was only in 1936, years after the 1930 census was concluded, that the National Statistics Department publicly communicated which legal rules it had used to determine nationality, to make Mexico. In the preface to its General Summary of census data, the National Statistics Department stated somewhat defensively that the 1886 Law regarding Alienage and Naturalization “clearly set the conditions that residents of the country had to fulfill to be considered Mexicans or foreigners” in 1930.[108] As if to broach no disagreement that its nationality count was accurate and legal compliance true, the department forcefully asserted that it had in fact classified the population in accordance with that law.[109] What was missing, however, was the 1917 Constitution. It was simply absent from the General Summary and from the underlying collection and analysis of census data.

In an about face from earlier printed materials, the General Summary quoted at length from the 1886 law of nationality, perhaps to reinforce the perceived authority of law despite the department’s failure to explicitly instruct census takers regarding any legal principles, constitutional or otherwise, in the terse census ballot instructions, training manuals, and official examples. The General Summary juxtaposed a new nationality law passed in 1934 against the old 1886 law, but made no mention of the 1917 Constitution. The General Summary specifically observed that the 1934 law “fundamentally changed” the rules regarding Mexican nationality, without noting that the fundamental legal changes to making Mexico began with the 1917 Constitution or even that the constitutional provisions regarding nationality were modified in 1934.[110] When counting Mexicans and Chinese, the department ignored the Constitution at a time when its nationality provisions governed.

That the Constitution controlled Mexican nationality is a straightforward proposition: in Mexico, “the legislative instrument that most basically regulates nationality is the Constitution.”[111] The Constitution did not, however, answer all potential questions related to nationality. In circumstances where the Constitution was silent—married women’s dependent citizenship as discussed earlier—it made sense to rely on the 1886 law, at least until new legislation was passed that both comported with the Constitution and addressed unanswered questions.

Underlying the Department’s decision to rely exclusively on the 1886 nationality law to explain in 1936 how it categorized 1930 census data may be a particular view of how a constitution, like a census, makes a nation. If a constitution is viewed as aspirational and ideal, rather than constitutive, practical, and directly enforceable, some sort of implementing legislation, such as the 1934 nationality law, would be necessary to effectuate constitutional promises. If the National Statistics Department took the position that the nationality provisions of the 1917 Constitution were not self-executing, it did so implicitly rather than explicitly and in contrast with other governmental bodies. In a variety of circumstances in the decade leading up to the census, the 1917 Constitution was directly enforceable in other contexts. First, courts granted judicial relief (amparo) to numerous plaintiffs who had invoked protections and procedures found in the Constitution.[112] Second, in response to queries from foreign governments, the Department of Foreign Relations cited Article 30 of the 1917 Constitution as setting the parameters for Mexican nationality as it modified the 1886 law.[113] In a variety of circumstances, the 1917 Constitution was not solely aspirational but governed directly.

Another potential explanation for the absence of constitutional criteria in the 1930 census is the allegedly problematic language of the original Article 30. According to some delegates to the constitutional convention in 1916, the language of Article 30 created “a lamentable confusion between principles of jus solis and jus sanguinius.”[114] As noted earlier, Article 30 made children born in Mexico to foreign parents Mexican “if within a year of reaching the age of majority they demonstrate to the Secretary of Foreign Relations that they choose Mexican nationality” and met a residency requirement.[115]

The debate regarding children born to foreign parents centered not around their nationality as such, but a particular distinction between kinds of Mexicans. Under the Constitution, an individual could be Mexican “by birth” or “by naturalization” with the implication that birth nationality was more authentic, more truly Mexican. Moreover, certain public positions, such as president, could only be held by birth Mexicans.[116] The proposed Article 30(1) explicitly made children who chose Mexican nationality at the age of majority “Mexicans by birth,” suggesting that their choice simply ratified a pre-existing reality. Others argued that the act of choosing, even for those born within the territory, made an individual Mexican “by naturalization” rather than by birth.[117] In contrast to the 1886 law, neither Article 30 nor the debates directly addressed how to categorize minor children prior to the age of majority and their election of Mexican nationality, or what to do if no election were made. Despite the controversy, in the end, Article 30 was enacted to make children born in Mexico to foreign parents Mexican “by birth.”

Constitutional reforms to Article 30 in 1934 simplified matters significantly with the straight forward application of jus solis. All those born within Mexican territory “whatever the nationality of their parents” were to be Mexican by birth.[118] But, those constitutional reforms and their construction of Mexico came too late to simplify the 1930 census count.

The Census Count

Mexican-born Women in Intimate Relationships with Chinese Men

Given the law in effect, even with its complications, the 1930 Census should record the nationality of Mexican-born women married to Chinese men as Chinese. However, the enumerators who went from door-to-door in Sonora largely recorded Mexican-born women civilly married to Chinese men as Mexican nationals. Most of the front-line data collectors, or the women themselves, did not appear to understand marriage with a foreigner as an expatriating act. Whatever the law and its power to take away legal nationality, to make the nation in a certain way, census takers recorded these women as Mexican.

The Census Management Office (Dirección de los Censos), however, disagreed. After the Census was concluded, thirty employees of the Census Management Office were assigned to review and “correct” the originally collected data, presumably at least in part to bring the nationality count in line with the 1886 law.[119] On numerous occasions, these civil service employees wielded heavy, dark pencils to change a civilly married woman’s nationality from Mexican to Chinese.[120] They enforced a legal conception of nationality consistent with the 1886 law. Of sixty-five women in Sonora who were civilly married to Chinese men, fifty-nine are finally identified as Chinese nationals. If the original data had been counted instead, only seven Mexican-born women would have been counted as Chinese nationals.

Because only civil marriage triggered marital expatriation, Mexican-born women in free unions or other intimate relationships with Chinese men, should be recorded as Mexican nationals. In the original, uncorrected data, they are. As with their civilly married sisters, census enumerators and the women themselves saw Mexicanness. Of 104 women in free unions or religious marriages with Chinese men, all—including Julia Delgado and Juana Ramírez, the partners of Francisco Gim and Carlos Wong Sun—are identified as Mexican nationals. In the modified data, three who were originally recorded as Mexican nationals are counted as Chinese nationals. Not a single Mexican-born woman in a free union or religious marriage with a Chinese man in the state of Sonora was initially identified as Chinese. In other words, the original census data always correctly recorded a woman’s legal nationality as Mexican when she was not civilly married to a Chinese man, but erred close to ninety percent of the time when she was civilly married. No enumerator made the opposite legal mistake, that an intimate relationship absent civil marriage somehow made a Mexican woman Chinese—either nationally or racially.

Children Born in Mexico to a Mexican Mother and a Chinese Father

With only slight variation, the census takers at the local level saw Mexico in virtually all children of Mexican/Chinese relationships, just as they had seen Mexico in their mothers, whether civilly married to a Chinese national or not. Eighty-eight percent of the time, children of Chinese-born fathers and Mexican-born mothers are initially recorded as Mexican nationals, whatever the marital status of their parents.

Once again, the Census Management Office stepped in to ostensibly correct the original data. Although children born in Sonora after 1917 were legally Mexican nationals—as the census enumerators had accurately counted them—the Census Management Office wielded its heavy pencil to change many of them to Chinese, albeit inconsistently.

Two contrasting examples from the small hacienda of Bacum underscore the Census Management Office’s inconsistencies. In the original data for Bacum, all six children of the Fos Esqueda family are correctly identified as Mexican nationals, born as they were in Sonora after the 1917 Constitution.[121] The mother, Guadalupe Esqueda, is identified as a Chinese national because of her civil marriage to a Chinese national, Juan Fos, although she is also listed as formerly Mexican due to her birth in Sonora.[122] The Census Management Office left the initial data intact. In contrast, however, the Census Management Office changed the data for the Fos Esqueda’s neighbors, the Chin family. Initially, the two young brothers José and Gaston Chin were identified as Mexican nationals, but the Census Management Office changed them to Chinese nationals.[123] On the census ballot, which is all the information the Census Management Office would have had regarding their specific situations, the Chin brothers and the Fos Esqueda children presented exactly the same set of facts: born in Sonora after the 1917 Constitution to civilly married parents; father born in China; mother born in Sonora. Nonetheless, the Fos Esqueda children were counted as Mexican nationals; the Chin brothers were not.

In revisions of census data, the changed status of the Chin brothers is the norm. The apparent obviousness of Mexicanness is belied by differential categorization of children in the same factual situation—some as Mexican nationals, some as Chinese nationals. When crossing out a census taker’s original designation of children as Mexican nationals,[124] the Census Management Office employee did not make Mexico the same way the census taker had.[125] What is it exactly that was counted: nationality or race? The wielder of the heavy pencil modified the data to reflect a patrilineal, racial construction of Mexico consistent with the 1886 law by refusing for the most part to count as Mexican the children born in Mexico to Chinese fathers and Mexican-born mothers. The correct 1930 census data reveals the continued pull of the patrilineal, racial concepts of citizenship found in the 1886 law, even where the Constitution provided for jus solis, even where the census did not explicitly count by race.

At least one census taker did exactly what Molina Enríquez observed regarding the confusion of race and country, raza and patria; he explicitly understood nationality as race. In the pueblo of Bacerac, Ignacio Zamora encountered a second-generation Chinese-Mexican family.[126] Both of the parents, Francisco Ley and Enriqueta Chi de Ley, were born in Sonora and spoke Chinese as well as Spanish.[127] Their two young sons were likewise born in Sonora and spoke both Chinese and Spanish.[128] Zamora recorded the nationality of the Ley Chi family using a venerable Mexican racial category from las castas, the castes. He called them each “mestizo.” It was apparently no matter that the National Statistics Department had explicitly rejected the racial classifications of the castes or that, even within the castes, mestizo technically referred to a “crossing” of Spanish and Indian races, which the Ley Chi family was not.[129] Despite the inaccuracy of the term and its official elision, Zamora’s identification of each member of the Ley Chi family as mestizo Mexicannized them and included them in a long tradition of racial mixing. Mestizo may be, in this context, a recognition of assimilation, of integration into Mexican culture, although if that were clearly the case the enumerator could simply have recorded the family as Mexican nationals, which they legally were. Mestizo does not identify nationality, yet mestizo is what Zamora, the census enumerator, saw when he counted the Ley Chi family to make the Mexican nation.

Zamora’s entries for the Ley Chi family apparently befuddled the Census Management Office. Mestizo is crossed out. Vertical slashes eliminate Chinese as a former nationality. The boxes to check for Mexican nationality—which Zamora left blank—are scribbled over also, rather than filled in with the careful Xs marking the rest of the page. In the end, it is not clear how the family was counted, whether by race, nationality, both or neither. If they weren’t numbered, did they count?


Certainly a census entry does not legally determine an individual’s nationality any more than it determines her race. It does, nonetheless, reflect the lived experience of the law, a grassroots attempt by individuals, census takers, and supervisors to record individual identity in a way law, society and the census survey form recognize. Although the National Statistics Department was certain that race no longer sufficiently constructed Mexico to ask explicitly about it on the census, race emerged in the officially corrected data as a significant qualifier of legal nationality.

Perhaps the National Statistics Department was right at some level. Neither census enumerators nor the vast majority of people they counted received instruction in the legal definition of Mexican nationality. Without that instruction, census enumerators could only record nationality and make Mexico as they and those counted perceived it. They recorded most everyone born in Mexico as Mexican nationals, whatever their father’s race, whatever their parents’ marital status. The best explanation for this consistent initial count of women in intimate relationships with Chinese men and the children born to them as Mexican nationals is not a racial construct of nationality, either matrilineal or patrilineal, but of jus solis nationality. At the grass roots level, someone born in Mexico counted as Mexican, even if she married a foreigner, even if his father was a foreigner.

Officially, however, a different construction of Mexico prevailed. In a census without a question regarding race, the Census Management Office made Mexico as it reified race and patrilineal constructions of citizenship through alteration of the original data. The Census Management Office ostensibly corrected the initial data to comply with the 1886 Law regarding Alienage and Naturalization, but in the process ignored the legal provisions of the 1917 Constitution regarding children born in Mexico to foreign parents. The official count of 3,571 Chinese in Sonora in 1930 highlights the pull of race and patrilineage on legal nationality in this contest between ordinary legislation and constitutional mandate in making the nation. Ironically, the original data collected by census enumerators without legal training tracked more closely the 1917 Constitution’s definition of Mexican nationality than did the officially corrected data. The 1917 Constitution moved significantly towards jus solis nationality to make Mexico, but it was not a movement the Census Management Office followed.

Neither the constitutional movement towards jus solis nationality nor the making of Mexico through the 1930 census protected Chinese in Sonora against state-sanctioned discrimination and violence. Whatever their legal nationality, however census enumerators or the Census Management Office counted them, Chinese and their families in Sonora suffered. The count of 3,571 Chinese nationals correctly included Mexican-born women married to Chinese men; these women were not, however, racially Chinese. The count incorrectly included the children of Chinese men and Mexican women—who might choose to identify racially as Chinese, Mexican, or mixed—but whom the 1917 Constitution made Mexican nationals. The number was neither an accurate count of nationality nor of race, but reveals the intransigence of racial constructions of nationality and nation even when race has been deemed officially irrelevant to making the nation. The violent expulsion of Chinese men and many of their Mexican-born partners and children from Sonora in late 1931 underscores that intransigence.

The discrimination and violence Chinese faced in Sonora both before and after May 15, 1930, contradicts the raceless Mexico officially presented on the 1930 census ballot as well as the inclusive vision of Mexican nationality enumerators saw in many Chinese-Mexican relationships and children. Chinese and their families complicated the endeavor to make Mexico through taking a census. Who was Mexican or Chinese, by nationality or race, depended on who was counting and what law they applied—if they applied law at all—to make Mexico great.

Kif Augustine-Adams is Charles E. Jones Professor of Law, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University <[email protected]>. For comments on various drafts, she thanks participants in the USC Law, Culture, and History workshop; Latin American Studies Association Annual Conference; Berkshire Conference on the History of Women; XXX Simposio de Historia y Antropología de Sonora; American Society for Legal History Annual Conference; Pacific Coast Branch/American Historical Association conference; Law & Society Annual Meeting; the BYU faculty workshop series; and to the editor and the anonymous reviewers of Law and History Review.


1.� All translations are by the author. Archival materials referenced in this section are found at Centro de Información, Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía, e Informática, Distrito Federal (Balderas), Mexico City, Legajos 2046 and 2047 [hereinafter INEGI]. The epigraph is a statement made by a census enumerator in Emilio Carballido’s play “The Census,” D.F. 52 obras en un acto 49–75, 58 (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2006) (“Usted sabe lo que es un censo … Es … es ser patriota, engrandecer a México…”).
Statistical data gathering through a census is a well-developed theoretical model for modern governance and nation-building. See, e.g., Talal Asad, “Ethnographic Representations, Statistics, and Modern Power,” Social Research 61.1 (1994): 55–88, 76 (arguing that “[f]rom a governmental standpoint,” a census “regulat[es] and transform[s]” a population); Ian Hacking, The Taming of Chance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 2–3 (noting that “[c]ategories had to be invented into which people could conveniently fall in order to be counted”); Michel Foucault, Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Random House, 1977), 148 (articulating the power of taxonomies and classifications to govern and discipline individuals). For an in depth discussion of the United States Census, see Naomi Mezey, “Erasure and Recognition: The Census, Race and the National Imagination,” Northwestern University Law Review 97 (2003): 1701–68.

2.� Censo de población del municipio de Cananea, Pueblo de Naco, Sonora, 1930, 77, lines 93–96 microfilmed as Film 1520330, items 1–3 [hereinafter “Municipio de Cananea, Pueblo de Naco”], 1930 Mexican Population Census Ballots, State of Sonora, Genealogical Society of Utah; available through Family History Centers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [hereinafter “FHC”]. The last name Gim was sometimes written Gin or Hing. I have used Gim throughout the text of this article because that is the spelling the family used, but followed the original spelling, whether Gim or Gin when citing sources.

3.� Municipio de Cananea, Pueblo de Naco, 177, lines 93–96.

4.� Ibid.

5.� Ibid.

6.� Ibid.

7.� Censo de población del municipio de Cucurpe, Sonora, 1930, 1, lines 8–10, microfilmed as Film 1520330, item 7 [hereinafter “Municipio de Cucurpe”], FHC.

8.� Municipio de Cucurpe, 1, lines 8–10.

9.� Ibid.

10.� Ibid.

11.� Secretaria de la Economía Nacional, Dirección General de Estadística, Quinto censo de población, 15 de mayo de 1930, Estado de Sonora, 109 (México: Estados Unidos Mexicanos, 1934) [hereinafter Quinto censo].

12.� Mae Ngai’s Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004) provides a particularly powerful account of citizenship, race, and nation-building in the United States; see also Ian Haney-Lopez, White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race (New York: New York University Press, 1996); Ariela Gross, “Litigating Whiteness: Trials of Racial Determination in the Nineteenth-Century South,” Yale Law Journal 108 (1988): 109–88; Ariela Gross, “Beyond Black and White: Cultural Approaches to Race and Slavery,” Columbia Law Review 101 (2001): 640–90; Kitty Calavita, “The Paradoxes of Race, Class, Identity, and ‘Passing’: Enforcing the Chinese Exclusion Acts, 1882–1910,” Law and Social Inquiry 25 (2000): 1–36.

13.� For example, Mexican Supreme Court decisions become “jurisprudencia obligatoria” or formally binding jurisprudence primarily when the full court interprets a point of law the same way five times in a row. See Stephen Zamora et al., Mexican Law (Oxford: Oxford University, 2004), 85. A single Supreme Court ruling may also become formally binding jurisprudence when the full Supreme Court resolves conflicting rulings by different chambers within the court or conflicting rulings by lower circuit courts. Zamora, Mexican Law, 84.

14.� U.S. Constitution, art. 1, sect. 2, clause 3.

15.� México, 1917 Constitution, art. 52 (original text). Previously, Article 53 of the 1857 Mexican Constitution had apportioned political representation based on population but did not mandate or mention a census.

16.� See, e.g., México, Ley de 30 de diciembre de 1922 (creating the National Statistics Department and establishing the census as “the basis for official national statistics”); México, Reglamento de 29 de noviembre de 1923 (charging the National Statistics Department with conducting a general population census for the entire country each decade).

17.� Departamento de la Estadística Nacional, Memoria de los censos generales de poblacíon, agrícola ganadero e industrial de 1930, 34–7 (México: Estados Unidos Mexicanos, 1932) [hereinafter Memoria de los censos].

18.� Memoria de los censos, 34–7.

19.� Cynthia Radding de Murrieta and Juan José Gracida Romo, Sonora: Una historia compartida, 322–33 (México: Instituto de Investigaciones Dr. José María Luis Mora, 1989), 322–33; Barry Carr, The Peculiarities of the Mexican North, 1880–1928 (Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 1971), 1.

20.� Radding de Murrieta and Gracida Romo, Sonora, 322.

21.� Carr, Peculiarities, 8.

22.� Adrian A. Bantjes, As If Jesus Walked on Earth: Cardenismo, Sonora, and the Mexican Revolution (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1998), xvi; Carr, Peculiarities, 9.

23.� Cynthia Radding de Murrieta and Rosa María Ruiz Murrieta, “La reconstrucción del modelo de progreso 1919–1929,” in Historia General de Sonora, vol. 4, Sonora moderno 1880–1929, 315–54, 319–21 (Hermosillo, Sonora: Gobierno del estado de Sonora, 1997).

24.� Radding de Murrieta and Gracida Romo, Sonora, 146, 149.

25.� Ibid., 146, 148; see also Héctor Aguilar Camín, La frontera nómada: Sonora y la revolución mexicana (México: Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 1977), 9 (“The Sonoran hegemony in the post-revolutionary years was vast and of lasting effect”).

26.� Evelyn Hu-Dehart, “La comunidad china en el desarrollo de Sonora,” in Historia General de Sonora, vol. 4, Sonora Moderno 1880–1929, 195–211, 198 (Hermosillo, Sonora: Gobierno del estado de Sonora, 1997). Other sources suggest that, at least by 1926, the Chinese population in the Pacific territory of Baja California (today divided into the states of Baja California and Baja California Sur) had surpassed that of Sonora. See, e.g., Robert Chao Romero, The Dragon in Big Lusong: Chinese Immigration and Settlement in Mexico, 1882–1940 (unpublished Ph.D. diss., University of California-Los Angeles, 2003), 71, 74, 79 (on file with author).

27.� Romero, The Dragon in Big Lusong, 69.

28.� Ibid.

29.� Ibid., 272–75 (discussing the Romero Commission Report officially titled Dictamen del vocal ingeniero José María Romero: Encargado de estudiar la influencía social y economica del la inmigración asiatica en México [México, D.F., 1911]).

30.� Romero, The Dragon in Big Lusong, 277–78 (citing and discussing the report entitled El servicio de migración en México por Andrés Landa y Piña jefe del Departamento de Migración [México, D.F.: Talleres Gráficos de la Nación, 1930]).

31.� Sonora, Artículo 106, Ley de trabajo y previsión social en el estado, 31 de marzo de 1919 (requiring eighty percent of employees in business establishments to be Mexican nationals); Sonora, Ley no. 27 del 8 de diciembre 1923 (creating Chinese ghettos); Sonora, Aviso a los comerciantes de abarrotes en general dictado por el director general de Salubridad Pública en el estado, 12 de noviembre de 1930 (prohibiting Chinese from living in or sleeping in commercial establishments); Sonora, Ley número 89 del 14 de mayo de 1931 (prohibiting employers from counting naturalized citizens as part of the eighty percent of employees required to be Mexican nationals under the 1919 law).

32.�Chinos y antichinos en México: Documentos para su estudio, ed. José Luis Trueba Lara (Guadalajara: Gobierno del estado de Jalisco, 1988), 134.

33.� Sonora, Ley número 31, 13 de diciembre de 1923.

34.� Hu-Dehart, “La comunidad china en el desarrollo de Sonora,” 210.

35.� Gerardo Réñique, “Race, Region, and Nation: Sonora’s Anti-Chinese Racism and Mexico’s Postrevolutionary Nationalism, 1920s-1930s,” in Race and Nation in Modern Latin America, ed. Nancy Applebaum et al. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2003), 220 (citing a speech Arana made in Cananea, Sonora, on April 29, 1916).

36.� L. R. Wilfley and A. T. Bassett, Memorandum on the Law and the Facts in the Matter of the Claim of China against Mexico for Losses of Life and Property Suffered by Chinese Subjects at Torreón on May 13, 14 and 15, 1911 (México, D.F.: American Book and Printing, 1911), 4. See also, Juan Puig, Entre el río Perla y el Nazas: La China decimonónica y sus braceros emigrantes, la colonia china de Torreón y la matanza de 1911 (México, D.F.: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1992), 173–74.

37.� Réñique, “Race, Region, and Nation,” 224 (citing a 1921 newspaper editorial and anti-Chinese crusaders José Angel Espinoza and Felipe Cortés).

38.� Gerardo Réñique, “Región, raza y nación en el antichinismo sonorense: Cultura regional y mestizaje en el México posrevolucionario,” in Seis expulsiones y un adiós: Despojos y exclusions en Sonora, ed. A. Grageda Bustamante (México: Plaza y Valdés, 2003), 231–89. The allegations regarding Governor Rodolfo Calles’s orders are set forth in various letters from U.S. officials. See, e.g., Letter dated February 25, 1932 from Lewis V. Boyle, American Consul, to the Secretary of State, Washington, D.C., United States, National Archives, RG 59, M1370, 812.504/1273.

39.� In litigation in federal court in Hermosillo, the state capital, a number of Chinese men describe how they were taken to the border between Arizona and Sonora by police or other government officials and forced across under threat of violence. See, e.g., Francisco Ley et al., Amparo no. 82, 11 Agosto 1932 and Agustín Chang, Amparo no. 77, 16 Agosto 1932, Casa de la Cultura Jurídica de la Suprema Corte de la Nación, Hermosillo, Sonora, Juzgado Quinto de Distrito.
The forcible expulsion of Chinese from Mexico into the United States caused significant consternation along the border and diplomatic tensions between the two countries. Arizona Daily Star, March 19, 1932, editorial; Letter dated March 16, 1932 from W. Doak, U.S. Secretary of Labor, to Henry L. Stimson, U.S. Secretary of State, United States, National Archives, RG59, M1370, 812.504/1281; Letter dated March 21, 1932 from Bartley F. Yost, Consul, to Henry L. Stimson, U.S. Secretary of State, United States, National Archives, RG59, M1370, 812.504/1282.

40.� Letter dated December 29, 1932 from N. F. Allman, Mexican Consul in Shanghai, to the Secretary of Foreign Relations, Mexico City, Mexico in Relaciones diplomáticas entre México y China 1898–1948, comp. Felipe Pardinas, (México: Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, 1982), 1:461–65. See also Julia Maria Schiavone, “Aunque vayamos a escarbar camotes amargos a la sierra, queremos México: nacionalism mexicano en China 1930s–1960s, y la repatriación de los 1960s” (unpublished paper presented at the XXX Simposio de Historia y Antropología de Sonora, Hermosillo, Sonora, 2005) (on file with author).

41.� See Robert H. Duncan, “The Chinese and Economic Development in Baja California, 1889–1929,” Hispanic American Historical Review 74 (1994): 615–47 (discussing why discrimination against Chinese in Baja California Norte was not as pronounced as in Sonora).

42.� See Julia Delgado de Gin, 25 June 1933, Border Crossings from Mexico to the United States, 1903–1957, (listing her husband’s place of residence as Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico).

43.� Secretaria de la Economía Nacional, Dirección General de Estadistica, Sexto censo de población, 6 de Marzo de 1940, Estado de Sonora 21 (México: Estados Unidos Mexicanos, 1940).

44.� Memoria de los censos, 37.

45.� Data for this project came directly from the 1930 census ballots. In 1988, the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU) microfilmed the extant original ballots for the 1930 Mexican population census as part of a larger genealogical and record archiving project. Copies of the microfilm, catalogued primarily by municipality and pueblos within municipalities, are available through family history centers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Microfilm coverage of census ballots from Sonora is fairly complete, with seventy-two percent of the population represented. Ballots for the remaining twenty-eight percent of the population in a number of municipalities (Alamos, Bacanora, Bátuc, Etchojoa, Huatabampo, Navojoa, Opodepe, Pitiquito, Sahuaripa, San Pedro de la Cueva, Santa Ana, Suaqui, Tepache, Tepupa, and Trincheras) were not microfilmed, apparently because they were missing from the ballots provided to the GSU. The aggregate census data that the National Department of Statistics published in 1934 does not report the geographical distribution of the 3,571 Chinese across Sonora’s seventy-four municipalities. Assuming, however, that Chinese represent the same proportion of the population in the municipalities whose census ballots were microfilmed and in those whose ballots were not, the census ballots reviewed for this project represent seventy-two percent of the population counted as Chinese in Sonora. The reasonableness of this assumption is born out by this project’s count of individuals identified as Chinese in the microfilmed ballots at 2,558, or 71.6 percent of the official total of 3,571.
The official census count identifies the Chinese population in Sonora as overwhelmingly male at 3,159 or eighty-eight percent. Quinto censo, 109. Because of their predominance in the population and the patrilineal and patriarchal character of contemporary nationality law, these men became the primary reference points of the study. Of the twelve percent of the Chinese population that was female, only a very small handful were adult women born in China. Adult women’s identification as Chinese largely derived from Mexico’s dependent nationality laws that, as discussed in detail below, expatriated native-born women who married foreigners. Beyond the summary data, the census ballots themselves present a rich, virtually untapped, set of data relating to the Chinese experience in Mexico. Robert Chao Romero is one of the very few other scholars who have used the 1930 Mexican population census ballots rather than the summarized data to explicate the Chinese experience in Mexico. See Romero, The Dragon in Big Lusong.

46.� Memoria de los censos, 24.

47.� Ibid., 53.

48.� Ibid.

49.� Ibid., 17.

50.� Marylee Mason Vandiver, “Racial Classifications in Latin American Census,” Social Forces 28.2 (1949): 138–46, 139.

51.� Memoria de los censos, 54.

52.� In retrospect, historians and scholars have also posited the decreasing importance of race and ethnicity in Mexico over the course of the nineteenth century. See, e.g., Alan Knight, “The Peculiarities of Mexican History: Mexico Compared to Latin America, 1821–1992,” Journal of Latin American Studies 24 (1992): 99–144, 118–23.

53.� Memoria de los censos, 52–3. See also Claudi Esteva-Fabregat, Mestizaje in Ibero-America (Tucson: University of Arizona, 1987).

54.� Memoria de los censos, 52–3.

55.� Alan Knight, “Racism, Revolution, and Indigenismo in Mexico, 1910–1940,” in The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870–1940, ed. R. Graham (Austin: University of Texas, 1990), 71–113, 72; Woodrow Borah, “Race and Class in Mexico,” in Race and Ethnicity in Latin America, ed. J. Domínguez (New York: Garland Publishing, 1994), 1–12; Charles Wagley, “On the Concept of Social Race in the Americas,” in Race and Ethnicity in Latin America, ed. J. Domínguez (New York: Garland Publishing, 1994), 13–27.

56.� Luis Cabrera, “El balance de la revolución,” in La revolución es la revolución, comp. Luis Cabrera (Mexico: PRI, 1985), 249–66.

57.� Ibid., 250.

58.� Ibid., 249.

59.� Ibid.

60.� Ibid. See also Andres Molina Enríquez, Los grandes problemas nacionales (Mexico: A. Carranza, 1909), 270 (available on-line at (arguing that “the fundamental and unavoidable foundation of all work towards the future good of the country has to be with mestizos as the prevailing ethnic element and dominant political class”).

61.� Memoria de los censos, 52–3.

62.� Ibid., 53.

63.� Ibid.

64.� Ibid.

65.� Ibid. See also the actual census ballot forms microfilmed, for example, as film number 1520321, FHC.

66.� Nancy Leys Stepan, The Hour of Eugenics: Race, Gender and Nation in Latin America (Ithaca: Cornell University, 1991), 147.

67.� Réñique, “Race, Region, and Nation,” 257; Agustín Basave Benítez, México mestizo: Análisis del nacionalismo mexicano en torno a la mestizofilia de Andrés Molina Enríquez (México: FCE, 1992), 121; Knight, “Racism, Revolution, and Indigenismo in Mexico,” 71.

68.� Stepan, The Hour of Eugenics, 147–48. See also, Dalia Ofer, “Anti-Semitism and the ‘Science of Race'” in Race and Racism in Theory and Practice, ed. B. Lange (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000), 61–76.

69.� Stepan, The Hour of Eugenics, 149.

70.� José Vasconcelos, La raza cósmica: Misión de la raza iberoamericana (México: Espasa-Calpe Mexicana, 1948). See also Gabriella de Beer, Vasconcelos and His World (New York: Las Americas, 1966) (detailing Vasconcelos’s life) and David A. Brading, “Manuel Gamio and Official Indigenismo in Mexico,” Bulletin of Latin American Research 7.1 (1988): 75–89 (identifying the anthropologist Manuel Gamio as a proponent of mestizaje as the Mexican ideal in the early twentieth century).

71.� Vasconcelos, La raza cósmica, 17.

72.� Ibid., 41–43.

73.� Ibid.

74.� Ibid., 18.

75.� Ibid., 18–19, 28.

76.� Memoria de los censos, 57, 157.

77.� See also Paul Schor, “Mobilising for Pure Prestige? Challenging Federal Census Ethnic Categories in the USA (1850–1940),” International Social Science Journal 57 (2005): 89–101 (available on-line at (discussing Mexican-American resistance to the separate racial classification in the 1930 U.S. census).

78.� 1930 U.S. Census Enumerator Instructions,

79.� Ibid.

80.� See, e.g., Camille Guerin-Gonzales, Mexican Workers and American Dreams: Immigration, Repatriation, and California Farm Labor, 1900–1939 (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1994); Francisco Balderrama and Raymond Rodríguez, Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995).

81.� See Stephen L. Chorover, From Genesis to Genocide: The Meaning of Human Nature and the Power of Behavior Control (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1979); Alan Stoskopf, Race and Membership in American History: The Eugenics Movement (2002) (available on-line at; Stepan, The Hour of Eugenics.

82.� Stepan, The Hour of Eugenics, 151.

83.� Vasconcelos, La raza cósmica, 30.

84.� Ibid., 29.

85.� Ibid.

86.� See notes 29 and 30 above and accompanying text.

87.� See Réñique, “Región, raza y nación”; Réñique, “Race, Region, and Nation”; Romero, The Dragon in Big Lusong; José Luis Trueba Lara, Los chinos en Sonora: Una historia olvidada (Hermosillo: Universidad de Sonora, 1990); José Luis Trueba Lara, “La xenofobia en la legislación sonorense: el Caso de los chinos,” in Memoria: XIII Simposio de historia y antropología de Sonora 1 (1989): 341–74; Evelyn Hu-DeHart, “Immigrants to a Developing Society: The Chinese in Northern Mexico, 1875–1932,” Journal of Arizona History 21 (1980): 49–86; Charles Cumberland, “The Sonoran Chinese and the Mexican Revolution,” Hispanic American Historical Review 40.2 (1960): 191–211.

88.� José Angel Espinoza, El problema chino en México (México, 1931), 124.

89.� My review of archival files of federal cases of first instance involving Chinese in Sonora in the early twentieth century shows that the judge granted relief in virtually all cases in 1924 where individuals protested against enforcement of two 1923 state laws, the anti-miscegenation Ley 31 and Ley 27 that created Chinese ghettos. In contrast, by 1931 and with a number of different judges, the complainant prevailed in almost no case, whatever the law at issue. I have summarized my findings in a document entitled “Amparo pedido por chinos, Datos del inventario del Juzgado Quinto de Distrito, 1900–1943,” which I developed from files at the archives of the Supreme Court, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.

90.� Molina Enríquez, “Los grandes problemas,” 284–85.

91.� Ley de Santa Anna, 30 de enero de 1854, Decreto del gobierno sobre extranjeros y nacionalidad, art. 1.

92.� 2 S.J.F. 588 (Epoca 2, 13 July 1881); Ley sobre extranjería y naturalización de 28 de mayo de 1886 [hereinafter Ley de 1886] (“Article 2. The following are aliens … [4] Mexican women who have married aliens; they retain their alien character even as widows”).

93.� Ricardo Cuoto, Derecho civil mexicano: De las personas (Mexico: La Vasconia, 1919), 1:92. See also Letter dated 1 February 1929 from G. Estrada, Ministry of Foreign Relations of Mexico to Arthur Schoenfeld, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the United States (stating that nationality in Mexico was governed by “the General Constitution of the Republic, article 30; [and] the Law of Alienage and Naturalization of May 28, 1886, partly modified by the regulations of the afore-mentioned constitutional article”). United States, National Archives, RG59, M274, 812.012/18.

94.� Amparo civil directo 4654/51, Figueroa Exiquio. 28 de Septiembre de 1951. Unanimidad de cuatro votos. (Tercera Sala; Quinta Epoca, Semanario Judicial de la Federación, parte 109 (CIX), page 2827); Amparo directo 5486/54. Eva Llaca viuda de González. 12 de enero de 1956. Mayoría de cuatro votos. Ponente: José Castro Estrada. (Semanario Judicial de la Federación, parte 127 (CXXVII) page 111; available at Tesis Seleccionada

95.� Ley de 1886, art. 1(1).

96.� Ibid., arts. 1(2) and 2(2) (stating that “Mexicans include … those born in the national territory of a Mexican mother and of a father who is not legally known” and “Aliens include … the children of an alien father, or of an alien mother and unknown father, born in the national territory…”).

97.� Ibid., art. 2(2) ( … One year after reaching the age of majority, they [children born in Mexico to an alien father or to an alien mother and unknown father] shall be regarded as Mexicans, unless they declare before the civil authorities of their residence that they follow their parents’ citizenship”).

98.� Ignacio Luis Vallarta, Exposición de motivos del proyecto de ley sobre extranjería y naturalización (Mexico: Francisco Diaz de Léon, 1890), 10.

99.� Ibid., 12.

100.� Ibid., 12–13.

101.� México, 1917 Constitution, art. 30(1) (“Persons born within the Republic to foreign parents are considered Mexicans by birth, if within a year of reaching the age of majority, they appear before the Secretary of Foreign Relations and declare their election of Mexican citizenship…”).

102.� See Dirección de los Censos, Instrucciones para empadronadores, jefes de manzana, de sección, de cuartel y de agencias censales (México: Departamento de la Estadística Nacional, 1930), 13; Dirección de los Censos, Instrucciones generales para la ejecución de los censos de población y agrícola ganadero, 15 de mayo de 1930 (México: Departamento de la Estadística Nacional, 1930), 24. Both pamphlets are available in the Centro de Información, INEGI, Balderas, Legajo 2046.

103.� Relación de los ejemplos para empadronar los habitantes de un poblado urbano, contenidos en la boleta I. INEGI, Balderas, Legajo 2046.

104.� Ibid.

105.� Ibid.

106.� John Torpey, “The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Passport System” in Documenting Individual Identity: The Development of State Practices in the Modern World, ed. John Torpey and Jane Caplan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), 256–70, 269.

107.� Torpey, “The Great War,” 269.

108.�Dirección General de Estadística, Quinto censo de población 15 de mayo de 1930, Resumen general (México: Estados Unidos Mexicanos, 1936), xxvii.

109.� Ibid.

110.� Ibid.

111.� Alonso Gómez RobledoVerduzco, “Derecho internacional y nueva ley de nacionalidad mexicana,” Boletín mexicano de derecho comparado 80 (1994): 315–45, 321. See also, Laura Trigueros, “Nacionalidad” in Diccionario jurídico mexicano, ed. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (México: UNAM, 1988) and “Evolución legislativa mexicana en material de nacionalidad,” Justicia electoral 80 (2000): 131–45, 139 (setting forth constitutional and legislative provisions regarding nationality).

112.� See, e.g., Luis Cabrera Acevedo, La suprema corte de justicia durante el gobierno de Plutarco Elías Calles 1924–1928 (México: Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación, 1998), 156, 172, 174, 202–211 (citing cases invoking constitutional protections).

113.� See, e.g., Letter dated 1 February 1929 from G. Estrada, Ministry of Foreign Relations of Mexico to Arthur Schoenfeld, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the United States (stating that nationality in Mexico was governed by “the General Constitution of the Republic, article 30; [and] the Law of Alienage and Naturalization of May 28, 1886, partly modified by the regulations of the afore-mentioned constitutional article”). United States, National Archives, RG59, M274, 812.012/18.

114.� Hector Enrique Espinosa, Estudio sociojurídico de la nacionalidad: México y la nación indoibera—Nueva ley de nacionalidad de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (México: UNAM, 1934), 125.

115.� Constitution, art. 30(1) (original text).

116.� See, e.g., Derechos del pueblo mexicano: México a traves de sus constituciones, Articulado (México: Porrúa, 1985), 5:30–11.

117.� See, e.g., ibid. (quoting deputy to the constitutional congress Machorro Narváez: “this [Article 30(1)], by theory and by law, is nationalization, it is not that they were Mexicans by birth”).

118.� Felipe Tena Ramírez, Leyes fundamentales de México, 1808–1987 (México: Porrúa, 1987), 835, 890.

119.� Memoria de los censos, 178–79.

120.� See, e.g., Censo de población del municipio Aconchi, 1, lines 17–18 and lines 26–31, microfilmed as Film 1520321, item 6 (two civilly married wives and their children changed to Chinese), FHC; Censo de población del municipio Altar, 52, lines 2–6 microfilmed as Film 1520321, item 9 (civilly married wife and children changed to Chinese), FHC; Censo de población del municipio Baviacora, 3, lines 32–33 microfilmed as Film 1520328, item 11 (same), FHC; Censo de población del municipio Guaymas, 205, line 48 microfilmed as Film 1520331, items 5–9 (civilly married wife changed to Chinese), FHC; Censo de población del municipio Hermosillo, 2, lines 43–44 microfilmed as Film 1520347 and Film 1520348, item 1 (same), FHC. A more complete list of changes that the Census Management Office made is in the author’s possession.

121.� Censo de población del municipio de Bacum, Sonora, 1930, 56, lines 67–74 microfilmed as Film 1520328, item 9 [hereinafter “Municipio de Bacum”], FHC.

122.� Municipio de Bacum, 56, line 67.

123.� Ibid., lines 84–85.

124.� Ibid., lines 26–31.

125.� The Census Management Office also added up the number of men and women on each page, blacked out civil status designations for children under fourteen, removed references to the language children under two year spoke, and made other corrections to the data. See, e.g., Censo de población del municipio de Cajeme, 56, microfilmed as Film 1520329, items 4–7, FHC, and Censo de población del municipio de Caborca, 28, microfilmed as Film 1520329, item 3, FHC.

126.� Censo de población del municipio de Bacerac, 10, lines 36–39 microfilmed as Film 1520328, item 7, FHC.

127.� Ibid.,10, lines 36–37.

128.� Ibid., lines 38–39.

129.� Memoria de los censos, 52.