Italian Immigration Dbq

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The Immigration Act of 1924 sparked conversations surrounding whiteness that complemented nativist practices towards Italian immigrants. During and after WWI, the sweeping immigration of Italians was met with white backlash surrounding their ethnic and national backgrounds, with many whites branding Italians as swarthy, illiterate, and ragpickers.” Furthermore, fiction novels of the early twentieth century portrayed Italians as distinctly non-white. While the Immigration Act was well received by white nativists behind such xenophobic actions, heavily biased mathematical engineering behind the quota system inadvertently spurred the consolidation of an Italian ethnic identity through geo-national pride. While the Immigration Act of 1924, influenced…show more content…
These frustrations rose to the point of nationwide protests, where the Supreme Court upheld a New York statute that proclaimed all Italian laborers working on the New York subways would be discharged from their positions. The entrance of the Supreme Court on nativist actions meant that nativism was reaching a near hysteric position- corroding even the impartial Judiciary. The government’s leniency towards American nativism led to the institution of a literacy test, which proved to be useless in sieving out unwanted European immigrants due to rising literacy rates in European countries. This unsuccessful attempt at excluding Italian and Eastern European immigrants led to greater rising sentiment which included dehumanizing these immigrant groups, branding them “abnormally twisted” and “unassimilable.” Nativism grew so high to the point of comparing Italian immigrants with rats and other animals. This collective anger at immigrants manifested in a widespread public outcry for a fix to the immigration system, leading to the introduction of the quota…show more content…
The common experience of dealing with nativist practices fueled the creation of a “nationally-cohesive Italian ethnic group” that helped both generations overcome subnational divisions. Subnational divisions, as seen in ethnic differences between Sicilian and mainland immigrants, pro-fascist and anti-fascist, as well as religiously Catholic and Protestant, needed consolidation to assimilate into United States society but also to foster unity to resist further white nativist practices. The creation of a cohesive and distinct Italian ethnonational group defies the typical forced American assimilation seen in cases of the Irish and the Jews. This ethnic and national Italian group sought to negate the Immigration Act of 1924 by taking their own course in American assimilation and not backing down to increasing xenophobia. Furthermore, the group insinuated the passive geopolitical resistance by means of populatory force and collective decisions on whiteness and ethnic pride. Apart from subnational consolidation, first and second generation Italian Americans were unified under a collective understanding of Italy that proved to push the group further into resistance to white xenophobia in the coming
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