Greater Things: Following Barbara M. Watson’s Political Achievements

Authored by Brooke Leonard

Newspaper article from the Washington Star-News dated September 4, 1974 detailing the attempt to oust Barbara M. Watson from her position.

Barbara Mae Watson was the first woman, and the first African American Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs. She was first appointed on July 31, 1968, where she served until 1974, and was appointed again on April 7, 1977 (Office of the Historian, n.d.). She served under Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter.

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Central Valley Opportunity Center: Gaining Ground in the War on Poverty

Authored by Anton Sherin

The cover of the Central Valley Opportunity Center's 1984 Annual Report
The cover of this annual report by The Central Valley Opportunity Center exemplifies the organization’s mission to generate labor mobility for low-income migrant farmworkers.

When “The Central Valley Opportunity Center 1984 Annual Report” was published, nearly all farmworker families living in the Central Valley of California lived below the Federal lower-living standard (CVOC, n.d., 8). Seventy five percent of migrant farmworkers spoke little to no English and language barriers combined with their itinerant existence meant that few were educated beyond the sixth grade. CVOC’s report gives a detailed account of the actions the organization took in 1984 to support migrant farmworkers’ struggle for survival. This report is valuable for understanding the foundations and efficacy of CVOC’s current operations.

The Central Valley of California is a temperate, 450 mile stretch of well irrigated, nutrient rich soil (Norton, n.d.). The 350 different crops grown there generate a quarter of the produce consumed in the United States (Perez 2019). This massive agricultural operation attracts a broad array of migrant workers to the region and wage growth is undermined by competition for unskilled positions. CVOC is one of many community-based organizations that emerged in the 1970s to address the needs of low-income migrant farmworkers in California (Tony Silva, pers. comm.). 

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Cold War Détente: Perturbation during a Period Designed for Peace

Authored by Ryan McDonnell

Photo of a primary source document in the Center for Migration Studies of New York’s Arthur P. (“Skip”) Endres Papers Collection. Congressional Record – Extension of Remarks: What Price Détente?, submitted by Honorable John R. Rarick of Louisiana in the House of Representatives, December 12, 1974.

During the late 1960s period of the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union began to share concerns over rising geopolitical tensions in a world ever conscious of the potential for nuclear devastation. Such concerns led to a roughly ten-year period of “détente,” where both nations sought to ease tensions through negotiations pertaining to arms control from 1969 to 1979 (Cahn 1998, 96). Though initially détente was popularly perceived as a step toward a safer and more peaceful world, a growing number of U.S. citizens condemned the program for functioning against the social and economic welfare of the nation (Zanchetta 2013). The 1974 article “What Price Détente,” found in a Congressional Record from the Arthur P. (“Skip”) Endres Papers Collection of the Center for Migration Studies, features a strong argument that sought to reveal the economic harm of the détente in order to garner support for the modification or abandonment of this foreign policy initiative.

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United States Immigration Policy: A Decades-Old Conundrum

United States Immigration Policy: A Decades-Old Conundrum

Authored by Casey L. Stiller

This scanned excerpt, written by Charles B. Keely and included in Mary M. Kritz’s U.S. Immigration and Refugee Policy, describes the challenges faced in changing United States immigration policy. Keely gives a brief overview of the current immigration climate within the United States in the early 1980’s.

There have been three major migration periods in the United States in the last century: a largely laissez faire outlook in the 1930s; the Bracero Program, in effect during and after World War II; and, following the elimination of the Bracero Program, passage of major immigration laws in 1965 (Rosenblum and Brick 2011, 1). The Bracero Program was a formal agreement signed between the United States and Mexico in 1942, establishing “a migrant guest worker program,” which had favorable conditions for Mexican immigrants (Rosenblum and Brick 2011, 4). The Bracero Program experienced significant pushback, and upon its expiration in 1964, was followed instead by the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965, which established per-country caps and a tiered preference system for rationing visas within a country (Rosenblum and Brick 2011, 5). 

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The Historical Context of the Explanation of Section 10 of H.R. 14831

Authored by Darian Donachie

The Explanation of Section 10 of H.R. 14831 is part of the CMS.105, Arthur P. (“Skip”) Endres Papers, 1960-1980s collection at the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS-NY)

President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) on October 3, 1965, during the mid-Cold War period (Kennedy 2019). The INA changed America’s formerly biased policy to reunite immigrant families as well as encourage skilled workers from other countries to establish a new life in the United States (History 2019). As a result, immigration to the United States soared throughout the 1960s and 1970s as people sought to start a new life free from “poverty or the hardships of communist regimes in Cuba, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere” (History 2019, under “Immediate Impact”). The number of immigrants from Asian countries to the United States was considerably high on account that they were now allowed to migrate to the United States; moreover, many of these immigrants sought to relocate to the United States from “war-torn Southeast Asia” (History 2019, under “Immediate Impact”).

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Father Lydio F. Tomasi’s Contributions to Worldwide Refugees in the 1980s

Authored by Sonia Lau

This letter is written to Father Lydio Tomasi on January 19,1983 from Eugene F. Higgins thanking him for his contributions and insights regarding refugee situations that is happening around the world during the 1980s. It is part of the Directors’ Files of CMS Collection #084A, Box 4, Folder 41.

Immigration has had an enormous role in shaping the United States as a nation. There are many reasons for one to immigrate and such decisions are major and life-changing. Conflicts between nations, as well as economic turmoil, displace millions of people all over the world. What happens when the people are forced to flee their homelands to escape and seek refuge in another nation? Thus, immigration becomes an essential topic for understanding and discussion. With such need, people like Father Lydio F. Tomasi, along with a few of his community of Catholic priests, nuns, and laypeople founded the Center for Migration Studies. Continue reading

The Positive Impact of Amnesty from the Immigration Reform and Control Act

Authored by Cecilia Wang

The letter was written by Romano L. Mazzoli in Washington, D.C.,1983. He appreciated that Lydio F. Tomasi wrote an excellent editorial in Migration Today, reflecting the balance of two provisions in Immigration and Reform Act of 1983. Mazzoli was one of the cosponsors of the IRCA, and the U.S. House of Representatives from Kentucky. This correspondence letter is part of the CMS Directors’ documents, which can be found in the CMS collection #084A; Box 4; Folder 41.

Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA, or the Simpson–Mazzoli Act) had been introduced to the Senate since 1981. However, it took five years of debates until it was passed by the U.S. Congress. It was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on November 6, 1986. The IRCA has two major provisions that are of focus. Firstly, it established penalties for employers who hire undocumented immigrants. Second, it addressed legalized undocumented immigrants who had arrived in the country before January 1, 1982. By far, the IRCA has granted the largest scale of amnesty in U.S. history, since almost three million undocumented immigrants benefited from the legalization program.

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Immigration Reform: Not a 21st Century Idea

Taken during a meeting between President John F. Kennedy and the American Committee for Italian Migration (ACIM) on October 12, 1963. During this meeting, President Kennedy promised to send his proposals on immigration reform to congress.

Authored by Coreen Getgen

Immigration has been one of the hottest topics in recent politics. As a nation, we have treated this topic as something that is new and radical. In all actuality, immigration and immigration reform have been major political topics for much longer than the past few years. Continue reading

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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