I Nostri Bambini: A Glimpse at the Work of the Italian Welfare League

Authored by Maxwell Schafer

A bright pink flier announcing a gala luncheon and fashion show to be held by the Italian Welfare League. Featured "Man of the Year" is Rudolph Giuliani, and "Woman of the Year" is Susan Lucci. Honoring Aprile Millo.
Image of a flier for a gala luncheon and fashion show hosted by the Italian Welfare League to raise funds for their work. Published in 1989.

In the summer of 1929, Mrs. Giustina Micono and her son arrived at Ellis Island from their home in Naples, Italy (“Death” 1929). Her husband had made a similar trip six years before, saving money to eventually send for them, but perished tragically while constructing a skyscraper just one day after the ship his family was aboard departed for America. Without money or a husband with a job, Mrs. Micono faced almost immediate deportation, but was saved by the Italian Welfare League, which fought on her behalf to be allowed entry, and won.

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Lasagna Dinner: From Tradition to Community

Authored by Victor Otero

Taken during the first Lasagna Dinner, a Holy Rosary annual fundraiser, this photograph shows the parish women who came up with the idea, left to right: Pat Bennet, Mary R. Catucci, Eleanor Eisman, Anita Segreti, Mary G., and Rosalie Pappano.

Italian immigrants into the United States represented ethnic/regional and job entitlements. The immigrants originated from different parts of Italy and worked in specific fields and job titles in the native nation. During the period from 1880 to 1915, millions of Italians migrated out of Italy into the US. While in America, the immigrants faced numerous challenges. The immigrants did not understand the English language and had little formal education; therefore, they were forced to take low wage manual labor jobs (Connell 2019). As a result, they were often taken advantage of by the intermediaries who served as go-betweens between them and the potential bosses. Most Italians saw the US as a place that could offer jobs that the unskilled and uneducated Italians peasants like they could do. 

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A Postcard of Praise

Authored by Sean Sorahan

Garner J. Cline (1974, July 27th)” Postcard of Constituency
Correspondence Regarding President Nixon”, Cline Collection,
Box 35 of 51, Center for Migration Studies, New York, NY.

There have been several instances of impeachment charges against Presidents in office. On February 24, 1868, President Andrew Johnson was impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors by Congress (Trefousse 1997). However, he escaped removal of office by the Senate on May 26, 1868 (Trefousse 1997). Continue reading

L’Archivio del Commissariato Generale dell’Emigrazione (Part II)

Authored by Michael Tomaselli

Figure 1 “Archive of the General Commission of Immigration (Part 2) and the General Directorate of Foreign Italians” – Finding Aid, Center of Migration Studies of New York, CMS.034

The Commissariato Generale dell’Emigratione (General Commission of Immigration) was founded on the 10th of January 1901(“Storiadigitale Zanichelli Percorso Site,” n.d.). The goal, in conjunction with the Direzione Generale degli Italiani all’Estero (General Directorate of Foreign Italians was to regulate the transmission of ideas into the country that might destabilize the regime and to protect citizens abroad. With Italian Unification ending in 1870, the Italian regime had to use every possible way to control its citizens in this nebulous time. Italy saw the world changing. Connections were being made faster than neurons firing. However, Italy saw the misfires as well. Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1884, ending with the line, “Workers of the World, Unite,” while witnessing the wildfire of social revolutions and reforms take shape across Europe(Marx, Engels, and Toews 1999, 96). Regimes fell, splintered, and reformed; and Italy was determined not to succumb. In order to do this, the government tried to barricade against the rising tide of the social agenda. Continue reading

The Second Anniversary Banquet Commemorating the Enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952

Authored by Laura A. Andrews

Program for the “Second Anniversary Banquet” commemorating the McCarran-Walter Act which honored newly naturalized Issei -American citizens of Washington D.C.

On Sunday, June 27, 1954 the Japanese American Citizens League in Washington D.C., held a banquet honoring newly naturalized Issei citizens. The event was held at the Sheraton Park hotel and commemorated the second anniversary of the Immigration and Nationality act of 1952. Better known as the McCarran-Walter act, the night featured speeches by its authors, Pat McCarran and Frances Walter.On the surface, this program may look like an ordinary event. However, in the context of its time, this banquet honoring these new American citizens was quite significant. The journey to this point, for those honored at this event was not an easy one, as the Japanese overcame many hardships to become American citizens. Continue reading

Solidarity in Advocacy: The American Jewish Committee on 1980s Immigration Reform Legislation

Authored by Mizuho Hashimoto

A copy of the American Jewish Committee (AJC)’s Statement on current immigration policy, stapled together with the business card of Gary E. Rubin, then-director of AJC’s Center on Immigration and Acculturation.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) has a long history of advocating for social justice and human rights, spanning from 1906 to the present day (American Jewish Committee, n.d.). Set upon the backdrop of 1986’s immigration reform bill, this document in the Garner J. Cline Collection at the Center for Migration Studies is a statement by the AJC arguing against a cap on immigration that would affect family reunification, as well as advocating for the admission of refugees (American Jewish Committee 1984). This Simpson-Mazzoli Bill – which ultimately passed in 1986 – was brought into existence with the intention of reducing illegal immigration, for example by penalizing businesses that knowingly employed undocumented people (Plumer 2013). However, this bill was criticized by those such as Congressman Edward Roybal, who argued that it would be discriminatory against Latino communities (History, Art and Archives, n.d.). In the document we can see the AJC advocating for Roybal’s version of the bill, which eliminated employer sanctions and introduced more generous means for undocumented people to naturalize (Montejano 1999).

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MOBILIZING COHERENT COMMUNITY RESPONSES TO CHANGING IMMIGRATION POLICIES: Multimedia from the Center for Migration Studies

Authored by Katrina Ehrnman-Newton

Image shows a view from above of a table with a panel of speakers and a seated audience. Watermarked with Center for Migration Studies logo.

Screenshot of the panel’s proceedings during this day of the conference.

This video is part of a three day proceedings from June 7-9, 2017 by several groups coming together to discuss their actions and emerging strategies to face the increasing hostility and illegal action being taken against immigrants and others under the emerging Trump presidency. The event was hosted by the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS), Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance of Catholic Charities of Galveston-Houston, the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, and the South Texas College of Law Houston (Center for Migrations Studies 2017).  Continue reading

The Rise in Illegal Immigration in the 1960s

Authored by Elizabeth Paul

This is a hidden compartment meant to smuggle in illegal aliens from Mexico, taken in 1968.

In 1965, the Immigration and Nationality Act, also known as the Hart-Celler Act, was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson (Ball et al 2017). This act ended the quota system started in the 1920s that had been put in place that gave preference to those of European origin, and instead created a system that was meant to reunite immigrant families and attract skilled workers (History.com 2010). This original quota system, however, did not include Mexico (The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress 2015). Because of this, temporary workers from Mexico were often hired to work on farms as part of the Bracero Program (Ball et al 2017). However, even after the end of this program as well as the introduction of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, former workers that were part of the Bracero Program would still cross over the border to work these farm jobs.

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Does the Melting Pot Still Meld in 2018?

Authored by Ocaria DiMango

A copy of the cover of Forbes Magazine, dated October 30, 1978 displaying the Statue of Liberty. This is currently part of the Endres Collection for the Center for Migration Studies.

This artifact is a copy of the October 30, 1978 issue of Forbes magazine, which portrays the Statue of Liberty in all her glory, a symbol of American’s immigrant heritage. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! (Moreno 2004). However, this sentiment towards new immigrants has changed throughout the life of America. I believe that views towards immigration, over time, have been based on what America was going through in history. It’s important for us to look back on an article like this and see how far we’ve come – so in this case, I wonder, how far have we come since 1978? Continue reading

“The United States and the World”: The Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy

Authored by Catherine Findorak

“Illegal Migration Examined at San Antonio Hearing.” Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy Newsletter No. 3 (January 1980)

In August of 1981, joint committees of the U.S. house and senate released the final report of the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy (SCIRP), entitled U.S. Immigration Policy and the National Interest (1981). Based on years of work, the final report of the commission recommended “closing the back door to undocumented/illegal migration, opening the front door a little more to accommodate legal migration in the interests of this country” (U.S. Congress 1981, 3) and stressed the need to work with other countries to improve the conditions that cause migration and exile (Fragomen 1981).

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