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European Affairs

How were Italian immigrants treated in the US in 1912?

Immigration has always been an issue in developed countries across the world. Even though the time and context changes, the same illogical arguments have been and will be used by xenophobes and racists all around the world, and most probably for generations to come.

Numerous Italian immigrants arrived in the USA between 1876 and 1976

 

The following is a very telling report made by the Inspectorate for Immigration to the US Congress on Italian Immigrants in the United States dating back to 1912. It is read by Simone Cristicchi, an Italian singer and composer.

“They build shacks made out of wood and aluminium in the peripheries of cities where they live next to each other. When they manage to reach the city centre, they rent out dishevelled apartments at exorbitant prices. They generally come in twos, and look for a single bedroom apartment with a kitchen. However, after some time, they multiply and become four, six then ten. They speak with a language amongst themselves that we cannot comprehend, most probably old dialects.

They tend to have a lot of children, who they generally struggle to maintain. Most of these children are used as beggars, and often you will see women dress in black and old men in front of our churches with pity in their eyes, but using plaintive and petulant tones. They say that they love to steal, and if you try to stop them they will turn violent.

Our women avoid them, not just because they are unattractive and slightly primitive in their ways, but it has become well known that rapes have been occurring in peripheral roads when our women come home from their jobs. Our governments have been too welcoming and lax at our borders, especially when it comes to filtering those individuals that come to our country to work from those that expect to live here without doing anything, or even worse as criminals”.

Do any of these arguments sounds familiar? Of course they do.

They are the same arguments Nigel Farage uses to describe Polish expats immigrants in the UK, Maltese people use to describe African immigrants in Malta, American people use to describe Mexican immigrants in the US, British people used to describe Indian and Pakistani immigrants in the UK etc etc.

 While this brief post will most probably do nothing to stop people’s racists views, I would hope it provides other more rational people with a bit of context.

Immigration has nothing to do with crime, jobs and loss of identity. It is simply about intolerance and racism in its most severe form. I wonder what the Aussies thought of the 40,000+ Maltese immigrants that landed on their shores in the 1960s?

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