Book Talk: Unwanted

[Elizabeth]: Good evening and welcome to our Virtual Book Talk this evening I’m Elizabeth Venditto for the Tenement Museum, and tonight I’m joined by Maddalena Marinari, Associate Professor of History at Gustavus Adolphus College and tonight we’re going to be discussing her book, “Unwanted: Italian and Jewish Mobilization Against Restrictive Immigration Laws 1882 – 1965.” So Maddalena is an immigration historian, we’ll be talking about the book We look forward to talking about some of your questions, so please feel free to put them in the comments as we go We’ll be addressing those a little bit later She’s also a publicly engaged historian, and she’s got some great projects, including the Immigration Syllabus which I hope we’ll talk about a little bit later tonight Welcome, and thank you so much for joining us today! [Maddalena]: Thank you for having me Liz It so good to be in this space, I’m sorry that we can’t do it in person. I have great memories of actually taking students to the Tenement Museum. I took a group of students from Latin America twice there and it was definitely the highlight of the visit to New York City. So hopefully soon we can do it again [Elizabeth]: I hope we are able to welcome you back soon but we’re thrilled to have you here with us tonight and to talk about the book. So why don’t you just get us started with an overview of the book and your research process [Maddalena]: So the book essentially tries to use the example of Jewish and Italian activists that fought against immigration restriction to look at how both sides, right– the laws that were passed between roughly 1882 and 1965 were passed. And it tries to do that through the eyes both of the immigrants who were targeted by these restrictive laws and look at the strategies that they used to kind of push back, challenge them, and reform them But it also looks at the restrictionists, the politicians involved, and the intellectuals that pushed the rhetoric behind it. And it had this approach because I was particularly interested in seeing how both sides in a way came together, and now we end up with the imperfect immigration laws that we ultimately have I was also interested in seeing when groups that are targeted for immigration restriction come together and why And when they don’t So even though the main characters so to speak are Italian and Jewish activists, I also look at the moments where they ally with other groups And actually that in– that illumination if you will, that epiphany happened while I was visiting the Tenement Museum and I saw this case about a Chinese family living near the Tenement. It’s like, well if they were interacting at the very least we should do the same in our– our scholarship. And by looking at these two radically different groups there are a couple of things that emerge. Often groups that fight for immigration reform are very much focused on advancing their own immediate groups and so they push for legislation that sometimes have unintended consequences and end up hurting other groups along the way But it also– the book also tries to challenge this idea that there was this period of absolute restriction between ’24 and ’65 In fact, one of the key arguments is that– is that inclusion and exclusion actually happen at the same time But we can get to that into that a little bit later. Research process, very messy! [Both laugh] [Elizabeth]: Aren’t they all! [Maddalena]: I have done research both in the United States and in Italy, and I have tremendous appreciation for the openness of most American archives Doing research in Italy is… an adventure or “interesting” as my Minnesota friends would say, as in not very interesting because it’s really challenging But to me it was important to get the voices of as many people as possible in this book, and so going to Italy became necessary even though getting the material was sometimes really challenging. I still remember the day that the elevator broke in the archive and they refused to go get boxes for like two weeks. It’s like, “Ah what am I supposed to do!?” I have to say that the book is quite different than the dissertation, because once I finished I actually ended up doing even

more research I understood that one of the things that I should explore further was the policy maker’s perspective And so that idea and– I– I– I felt like I became a detective. Where I wanted to know what these people were up to, why they were doing what they were doing, because one of the things that stood out to me as I started rethinking my manuscript, was that a lot of the key people involved in passing these immigration laws in ’17, ’21, ’24, ’52, ’65 were actually representatives and senators from areas of the country that did not have a lot of immigrants And so that became almost an obsession – like I had to know why And there’s very little research done on that but it’s mostly because of the– immigration became a tool to establish political influence, essentially, and to retain power So that’s why some– some of the key players involved are often from the South [Elizabeth]: And we’ll talk more about that and I want to go back to the years you mentioned, the various immigration laws, but before we do just to orient our audience, you’re talking about Jewish and Italian activism early and mid 20th century Can you just give us an overview of those communities? Their migration, but also that act– that early activism before we talk about the specific laws? [Maddalena]: And those are actually, describing their– their early activism and their migration pattern helps us explain some of the differences too So immigrant and– Italians and Eastern European Jews were the major target of several of these restrictive immigration laws, when it came to Europeans, right At the end of the 19th century, Italians and Eastern European Jews become part of one of the largest global migration in world history. And on arrival they’re immediately disliked. And so as early as 1882 there were already first– the first proposals to kind of weed out undesirable Europeans And Americans really wrestled with that idea Well, they could accept, fairly easily, the idea of excluding Chinese immigrants, for example, it took a while for them to find ways that they can still restrict some European– European immigrants but still allow a few of them So I chose– so that’s the primary reason that I chose these two groups Like they were the target of this campaign to restrict immigration from southern and eastern Europe But they were also the largest But the similarities stop there. And I think this is a good lesson in understanding that no matter sometimes what immigrants do, if you live in a period of immigrant– under immigrant hysteria it won’t matter So you have Jews on one hand, who arrive to settle immediately They arrive in families, and they try to become citizens right away, and they try to become part of the broader U.S. society immediately, as soon as they can On the other hand you have Italians, who for the longest time, until they could, it’s a mostly male migration and they go back and forth They only start bringing family members once the laws become restrictive enough that they realize that they have to start settling, and they’re perceived as politically apathetic precisely because they’re too close to their country of origin. And so you have one group that is in a way doing what a lot of Americans wanted which is trying to integrate, naturalize, and be part of U.S. society, and they– and Jews become criticized for that I mean so much so that when they become particularly vocal, the “immigration problem” is often called, in the first half of the 20th century, the “Jewish problem.” And then you have Italians on the other side who don’t naturalize as quickly, don’t settle as quickly, but they’re seen as a threat precisely because they have strong ties to their country of origin. So they couldn’t– they they couldn’t guess it, right. They just couldn’t figure out if you were immigrant from these areas you were disliked no matter what But the story that I– I became interested in is, who are these self-appointed leaders, right? And why so much of the campaigning, so much of the protes,t and fight against immigration restriction is coming from middle class influential members of– of both groups

And it’s because they see that it’s a reflection, right. The rhetoric, the anti-immigrant rhetoric that is targeting these groups, is a reflection on them. And it and also affects their ability to integrate into U.S. society And that’s particularly evident when you look at the Jewish side of the story because Eastern European Jews and the older more established German Jews didn’t exactly get along. But German Jews understood that fighting for immigrant rights would improve their role in U.S. society as well The other piece that I find that was interesting, because Italians had to create a system, an infrastructure from scratch because they didn’t have any mutual aid society, they didn’t have any political clout, their influence– their influence emergence– emerges a lot later For the Jewish side, you have already very influential, powerful, and wealthy members of the community that– that is very outspoken. But that actually turns out to be a problem too And so from the very beginning Jewish activists promote inter-ethnic coalition, while Italians only focus very squarely, from the beginning, on any legislation that affects Italian directly and they only ally with others when they can get something in return for Italian immigration [Elizabeth]: Well then I want to transition you to that early period the beginning of– of activism against some of the laws specifically targeting Europeans So you mentioned there have been other exclusionary laws by the early 20th century, now those laws after having focused on Asians and people of other races, are starting to focus on Europeans You mentioned 1924, many people who have attended our tours know it impacts a lot of people on the Lower East Side where the Museum is headquartered, so can you talk a little bit more about Jewish and Italian mobilization and reactions to those early exclusionary laws in 1910s and culminating in that 1924 law you talked so much about [Maddalena]: Yeah, so the the first– the period– the first two decades of the 20th century, I think for us it’s hard to realize but all of these groups are going about opposing immigration restriction by trial and error Like so, a lot of the strategies that we’re familiar with now were just being tested So both Italians and Jews look around and see what other groups do, so like like Chinese immigrants for example they try to go to court. But pretty soon they realize that it’s very expensive and time-consuming and that they have an advantage, right They can actually become citizens And they can take care of the– and they can take advantage of the political sphere So that’s probably the first– the biggest– it’s amazing how how long it took for them to realize that this was actually probably the way, dealing directly with politicians, essentially trying to enter the halls of power But also the other piece that they try to figure out is, so how do we promote our agenda, right. And they settle on something that again is quite popular today, they become obsessed with this education campaign Because they really believed that if Americans only knew, right, the contributions that immigrants make to the United States, they would not support laws that separate families, that cause hardship, and so they launched those kind of initiatives But at the same time, like they also realized that they have to engage with these politicians and in– and in doing that they start really paying attention to where are the loopholes and the areas that politi– even the most restrictionist politician are willing to negotiate And by 1917, they realized two things One is that even the strictest immigration law, including the Chinese Exclusion Act, has a class component, right So it’s not that it is like all immigrants, middle class educated and immigrants with means, are privileged And that was actually a really tough lesson to learn Until the 1950s both groups actually try strenuously to say we cannot completely exclude “unskilled” immigrants Because that just doesn’t match the reality And I think this– this piece of the story is often lost

By the 1950s it’s clear that– that kind of argument isn’t going anywhere The one that they finally cling onto and it leads to a lot of successes in challenging immigration restriction is family reunion. And so, family reunion pretty much emerges as the one area where legislators are at least willing to mis– meet with anti-restrictionists and negotiate – and so they start pushing for more and more exemptions which– which in practice means that once the quota system is in place, this annual cap, they fight for family members to come outside of that cap. The moment of realization is actually quite a tragic one, since the centennial is coming I feel like I should mention it. When they passed the first quota system in the emergency quota act of 1921, they passed this really restrictive draconian ambitious immigration law, but it’s clear that the United States doesn’t have the resources, the personnel and the knowledge to implement it. And so, that created a complete chaos – so people were stuck at sea not knowing which law applied to them Once they arrived, a lot of them were either deported or were left in limbo for months. It’s summarily expelled And so, the– the chaos, the separation was an important lesson for these groups because they realized that, uh, immigration authorities tended to be more lenient if the immigrants affected were families who were separated essentially [Elizabeth]: So, can you just remind us – what happens in 1924 and how does family reunification play into that in the years that follow? [Maddalena]: So, between 1882 and 1921 and then we knew in 1924, much– except for Chinese exclusion, the bulk of immigration laws focus on qualitative aspects of immigrants So, they say if you’re an anarchist or if you’re too poor, if you have a physical disability – so they focus only on the qualities of the immigrants. And the peak of this emphasis on qualitative restriction is when it comes to Europeans is 1917, when there is a law that says that everyone– every new immigrant that comes into the country has to take a literacy test and they have to be older than 14 With the belief, and this is different from today, with the belief that if you are educated, you’re much more likely to– much more inclined to become a citizen, be a contributing member to American society. And at the time, at least when it comes to European immigration, there is this strong connection– it’s like you see it in the documents, like okay, if we have to admit these immigrants that we really don’t like, can we just admit the best of them who can become citizens. But the literacy test doesn’t stop, or reduce the flow of immigrants from Europe as much as restrictionists wanted and so then they resort to a proposal that had been there since the early 1910s which essentially creates a quota system. Each country is allotted a certain number of immigrants that can come in And the quota, the 1924 act does three things: it imposes an almost complete ban on Asian immigration; it exempts immigrants from the Western hemisphere, but it adds all sorts of other restrictions; and it imposes this quota system on immigrants from Eastern– the Eastern hemisphere which is specifically meant to reduce the number of Italians and Eastern European Jews coming into the country And then the– the math, I won’t bore anyone with that, but the math is interesting because it’s devised in a way to drastically reduce the number of immigrants coming from Eastern and Southern Europe and bump up the numbers of immigrants coming from Northern and Western Europe. So the the message is unmistakable, right Our– the ideal immigrant is coming to the United States should be from Northern and Western Europe, not from Southern, Eastern Europe And it’s in the– in creating those quotas though, Italians and Jews start pushing for, okay, who is exempted, right

And they, from the 1920s through 1965, they’re saying- husbands, wives, right, spouses should be exempt Parents should be exempt, children under 21 should be exempted and they always, um, they’re almost always successful- at least in crafting these laws even though in practice there were other mechanisms that, um, in the end still slowed down the flow of immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe [Elizabeth]: And so, I want to follow up on that- about this way they’re trying to operate within that system You mentioned family unification becomes the focus. You also mentioned that the legis– you, the book you talk about both anti-restrictionist relationships with both the executive as well as the legislative branch are really crucial to how they maneuver in this. You mentioned a little bit earlier about congressional committees and about fierce opposition and support of these restrictionist quotas from parts that senators and parts of the country where there weren’t a lot of immigrants. Can you talk a little bit about that in the context of the organizing because that’s a really central part of the story that you tell [Maddalena]: Yes, of course So, there is a clear connection between one, um, the role of the executive, right A lot of this laws at the beginning of the 20th century would not have passed if the executive wouldn’t have changed position. So, the closer you get to the 1920s, the more presidents essentially endorse immigration restriction That changes with World War II onwards. And so, one of the key stories that I tried to tell is also the role that war shaped immigration policy in the U.S is something that I– I think we should explore a little bit more. So if World War I became the catalyst for passing more immigration restrictions, World War II became the catalyst for actually reforming some of these immigration laws – even token reforms But a key point of the change that happened starting in World War II is because presidents start understanding that having immigration laws that are blatantly discriminatory and racist undermine a U.S. foreign policy but also undermines the image of a democratic nation the United States is trying to project- especially once we shift into the Cold War. And so that, all of a sudden, those Italians who were blamed for having strong ties to Italy come in really handy, right – and they realized that. And so they created a really big organization and they say, “Sure – we will promote U.S ideals in Italy if you pass special legislation to help more Italians come in.” The other piece about the, um, legislators is equally important and here too there is a pre-World War II and a post-World War II era So, a lot of the immigration laws that were passed happen at the time- at the beginning of the 20th century, when the way the laws are made have changed And so they, all of a sudden, the committees that we’re accustomed to, that’s when they are created and so people start negotiating quite passionately about who should dictate those immigration laws And it’s not by chance that a lot of the politicians who end up on these committees are people who felt vulnerable So some of the southern politicians, for example, are terrified of an expanding electorate. And so, they use their quote-unquoe “success in– success in containing the immigrant threat” to retain power, but also get re-elected And this kind of converges in, I still can’t believe it – to this day, in 1952 when McCarran has like- a Senator from Nevada, and at the time he was elected, apparently, with only a hundred thousand people in Nevada – he was called the boss of Nevada and he was proudly, always said: I know every single one of my costituents I mean, the guy got two airports in Nevada – when bigger states only had one, that’s how much clout he had. But by 1952 it’s amazing because he is in so many committees that he can threaten pretty much everyone within congress and within the government saying – if you do not support your law, like he literally says, tells the state department, if you do not support your

law – I’m actually on the committee that approves your budget. Right! And so there are all these veiled threats going on. And then, and even that archive was interesting because, amazingly enough, there are only good things about this law – even though we know by looking in newspapers that it was a– a harshly- a harsh fought battle and a harshly criticized law. If you go to the archives of the Senator, there’s only one point out of 40 boxes I looked that is mildly critical So there was clearly commitment to kind of give a positive image of the power and influence that McCarran had And so the biggest lesson, I guess, is that immigration law was never just about immigration law, right. There are al– always much larger factors at play And for most of the first half of the 20th century, it really is about retaining that influence and your power, essentially, in your re-election, essentially [Elizabeth]: So in the face of that system, how do Jewish and Italian activists, anti-restrictionists, organize in that, I guess, that early part of the– early to mid 20th century? [Maddalena]: So, um, even though I strongly believe that these people were quite successful considering the constraints that they were under, right. So, they– they’re trying to push to change restrictive immigration laws at a time when immigrants are not very popular, at a time when even getting access to politicians is not very easy, at a time when even when you get access to this politician they clearly disparage you I do want to point out that by going “mainstream” they actually attracted a lot of criticism from their own communities So, if before the 1920s all– both groups are vocal, they protest in the streets, they’re very direct in calling for repeal for a lot of these laws, the closer you get to the 50s and 60s, the more– the more they try to seek a compromise And they really start embracing this idea that any change to the status quo is progress. The only time that they tried in 1952 to push for the repeal of the quota system, it really did not end up well because McCarran had so much power and they were presented as traitors, communists – and they faced a huge backlash. And so, throughout the– kind of an undercurrent of the story is that this self-appointed leaders in the end were successful but because they understood that progress only came by compromising even though when you had imperfect laws But, the entire time, they faced a lot of pressure from the community saying: you should do more, you’re not doing enough, we’re here separated from our families. Or, especially in the 30s, and 40s when there is a wave of refugees, there’s a lot of tensions within this community because they think that they should fight for more people to come in and not be happy with what the United States government is “conceding.” [Elizabeth]: And so, what are some of those concessions that come to feel so important for them? [Maddalena]: So, I will briefly just mention one which probably caused some of the biggest divisions which is around right after World War II and the passage of the Displaced Persons Act So, Jewish activists really understand that they can’t be honest and say there are a lot of Jewish refugees That they understand that because of the lingering anti-semitism explicitly saying we need to help Jewish refugees who survived the Holocaust, so they end up allying with a bun– with a lot of groups, including with Italians and ironically the only argument that worked was to say it’s not these refugees are not just Jewish, a lot of them are Christians And so the final piece of legislation for which they fought, in most cases paid for, organized behind the scenes, mobilized, sponsored education campaigns – yes, the legislation passed But, Jewish refugees were not

ultimately the primary beneficiaries, and that’s true for a lot of other examples. So, I– I think that one of the biggest shortcomings of their fight was this inability to push the government to do– to retain at least a semblance of consideration for immigrants with few skills And even though their communities were not super affected, by the time you get to 65, the choice not to fight more for immigrants with few skills has affected other immigrants to this day Um, or also recognizing that the government favors essentially middle-class immigrants and not pushing for exceptions to those So, one of the things that happens is that even refugee legislation at the time had really high standards that ended up favoring refugees with a work– with a middle-class background [Elizabeth]: And so, I want to shift ahead a little bit further in time so we can get to some questions But you’ve mentioned 1965 several times now, so I wanted to take the story through 1965 So what happens as we get into the 1960s that makes immigration reform legislation possible in a way that it didn’t before for these activists? [Maddalena]: So ’65, the fight for the passage of 1965 which led to the repeal of the quota system starts really in ’52 Italians and Jews see the passage of the ’52 law, which essentially confirmed the gain that the country was going to abide by the quota system along with a lot of other things was kind of a wake up call and so both groups in– with other organizations and other ethnic groups committed to keeping immigration front and center And so every year they’re very public, they have big demonstrations, they have a big visit to congress, and more importantly they understand that the executive, right, is now their ally And so I think the– the– the thing that they were most successful at, is what– was not to let Americans forget that immigration the way that it stood, was a liability for U.S. foreign policy and it went against some of the emerging civil rights rhetoric of the 50s and 60s And so by 1965, they realized, and the Johnson administration realized this very clearly, that this is it. This is the window that they have to repeal the quota system. But first they actually have to convince Johnson Johnson actually voted for the 1952 Act saying, “Yes I want the national origin system.” And so they’re– they’re absolutely relentless And they meet with politicians I mean, they have– it’s– they’re incredibly persistent and they work really hard to create a large diverse coalition But their influence stops there, essentially. So once the Johnson administration says, “I agree let’s take up immigration reform” and he wants to do it quickly, because he realizes that immigration reform is not entirely popular. All these people, some of whom have been fighting for a really long time, are excluding from– excluded from the final negotiations And ironically, some of the rhetoric that they had used, which is creating a more humane and more just immigration law is used against them in the final negotiations. And one of the things that happens is that key restrictionists say to the president, do you want us to get rid of the national origin system ,and of course he does, it says, “Well, then we’re including– we’re imposing a cap on every country around the world And the cap is going to be the same for every country around the world.” So just to give an example, Liechtenstein and China both get 20,000. So you can already see where this is going, but the larger issue– so on one hand, right Johnson can say “Look we get rid of this 40 year old discriminatory law, but imposing a global cap actually has a a lot of unintended consequences and so ’65 on one hand is credited with diversifying U.S society more than any other immigration law, but it also created one of the most debated issues of today, which is undoc– unauthorized immigration Because the cap was also

imposed on countries in the Western Hemisphere which had been exempted until then And so that created, right– so their willingness to negotiate, compromise, and be happy, right, with the central focus of their 40-year-old campaign, actually ended up creating long-term consequences that we live with to this day [Elizabeth]: Besides the actual legal system we live with today, what are some, do you think, are some of the long-term effects of the way that they were organizing leading up to the ’65 Act? Because you make that point [Maddalena]: So I think on one end they tested, and in a way pioneered a lot of strategies that are still with us today Right, so having, right, organizations that are very visible, vocal, organizing letter campaigns or I guess today would be social media campaigns, but at the same time by looking at these groups, we also understand how difficult it is to— create coalitions. Right, it’s actually– you– you understand really clearly that each group has very different priorities, it comes at immigration reform from very– very different stances, right. So it matters if you are an immigrant of color,N in your status matters, right. So the priorities are different and because they have little leeway, right inter– because they’re not shaping legislation they’re just– they– have most of the time they are reactive rather than proactive because they’re never asked to say what kind of immigration law would you want, that that limits their ability to produce legislation at a fas– that affects a larger number of immigrants, as much as large of a number of immigrants as possible, essentially [Elizabeth]: And throughout the period you’re talking about, is organizing happening across ethnic, religious, and racial lines, or not so much? [Maddalena]: It doesn’t really– so there are some efforts at the beginning of the 20th century but because there’s so much anti-immigrant sentiment, immigrants spend a lot of time saying “This is why you should want Italian immigrants and jewish immigrants and not other kinds of immigrants. And so all earlier instances of success– of– of efforts like coalition building, don’t really work There is some in the 50s and 60s, but 1952 is a really good example because for example ja– the Japanese American citizenship links– allies with all these Jewish organizations and Italian organizations but they end up calling Italians and Jewish activists hypocrites, because they’re completely mum of what’s happening on Mexican immigration or they are not supportive enough of the provisions of the law that Mccarran is putting in place against Communists So– so this is what I mean, right? Even when they come together and say, “Okay let’s work on this because it benefits everyone” finding common ground, like just one piece, it’s actually really really hard And it’s because they have different priorities, right, your background– political, class, racial background is– it all matters and complicates matters very very very quickly [Elizabeth]: Any other lessons, do you think, or insights does your book have for the present moment? [Maddalena]: Ooh. We don’t have a lot of time, [both laugh] I think that, you know, one of the things that I find inspiring about this group is that they relentlessly kept trying even in the face of very public and negative attacks And even though the situation is pretty dire right now, I think we should still keep trying to produce better immigration legislation. And to be I– I think, to be creative and start proposing solutions as well Because the political environment is changing, where it is more possible for immigration activists to actually make proposals and be listened at that level to. Even though it doesn’t look that way But I think there are also lessons to be learned even though compromise is not appealing or sexy, in the 1950s if you read those documents, they really felt like anything was better than nothing

Even if this law would only help come into the country a few hundred more immigrants than before, for them it mattered, right And so I think we have to keep in mind that these are– these aren’t just laws there are people behind them And sometimes I feel like in some of these debates this gets lost a little bit [Elizabeth]: I’m going to start asking you some questions from our audience If you’re watching live with us, feel free to type them in and we’ll answer them over the next few minutes I have a question wondering if Balkan immigrants were also included in that 1924 law. So, when you’re specifically talking about Southern/Eastern Europeans, who are you talking about? [Maddalena]: Yeah, so the Balkans were definitely incorporate– incorporated under the immigration law the quota system But that gets us to another issue Sometimes because geographical boundaries changed, what– where your quota was ascribed to mattered. So there are all these debates about– so, Yugoslavia, right, or Estonia and all these places in Eastern Europe, they keep changing boundaries through– throughout this time period, actually pose huge challenges At one point I would say, just to make everyone laugh, they also want to come up with a separate quota for Northern Italy and Southern Italy because apparently Northern Italians was slightly better than Southern Italians And so, it– just geographically if you– it includes all of Eastern Europe, and then Greece, Italy, Spain Like, so France excluded, I guess France was considered Western Europe– ah, Northern Europe so But it’s– it does include the entire– it covered all of Europe And it drew a line between Eastern and Southern Europe and Northern and Western Europe [Elizabeth]: And what is the reason for such a strict line? [Maddalena]: So, depends on who you asked, but Italians and Jews in particular, but a lot of these immigrants– Poles, Russians, are usually described as the ones who will struggle the most to assimilate into U.S. society: politically, culturally, religiously. So these are these are some of the— so if you flip them, right? So Italians and Jews are not Protestants, for example They– they don’t– their language is not of Anglo-Saxon origin And so, in a way, this law has become a way for Americans to reflect on who– who did– who did they imagine the ideal American to be, right, And it’s white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant And so immigration laws become a tool of social engineering, right, where you get to establish who gets to come in, but more importantly who gets to become a U.S. citizen. I just– I really can’t emphasize how much we’re obsessed with this idea. And in fact, at times they were even concerns that these laws might exclude the wrong people So that’s why they spent almost five years trying to figure out these quotas, because they really wanted to make sure that they– it would not it would not penalize Germans, it would not penalize Irish, and so on and so forth [Elizabeth]: And how do those ideas about what the nation should look like, on the restrictionist side, change or not shades by the time we get to 1965? Is that something relatively constant or does that have upheaval as well? [Maddalena]: So, because of World War II, right, politicians become– some of these ideas kind of fall out of fashion, right. You can’t say– you can’t talk about how immigrants from Northern Europe are superior, racially superior, because in certain circles Italians and Jews were not seen as entirely white either So by World War II those ideas are not– are not expressed publicly anymore but that doesn’t mean that in private at least, some of these politicians still, nonetheless, embrace them Again, sorry to go back to him, but McCarran was one of those For some reason he– he really hated Italians, but he loved Franco and he created this special bill to bring Spaniard shepherds to Nevada There’s also this– this personal quality in this to the immigration legislation that sometimes gets lost too

But by– World War II also allows, finally, these European groups to become fully accepted into US society But their acceptance hinges upon this anti-immigrant side demand turning towards other groups, right Which is also another dynamic that we see in U.S. immigration history. So the acceptance of one group sometime— oftentimes coincides with the arrival of a different group that is then despised in turn, right And I think the one thing that is always surprising, and that we we see a little bit today is that immigrants, the descendants of more recent immigrants have suffered sometimes from historical amnesia, right, they forget So like some Italian Americans have forgotten that they had a really difficult history And today a lot of them are vehemently anti-immigration [Elizabeth]: And used a lot of creative strategies to get around previous [Maddalena]: Yeah [Elizabeth]: levels of restriction [Maddalena]: Well the language changes but a lot of the ideas don’t, if that makes sense [Elizabeth]: Speaking of, creativity I have a question about family reunification Someone asked if– so family reunification is a way to go outside the quota system, did that incentivize Jewish and Italian communities in the U.S to marry someone from a country of origin versus someone already living in the U.S.? [Maddalena]: Yes but it– to a point. So the ones– the one piece that I haven’t gotten really into is, for example, for Italians The Italian government isn’t too happy about these family reunifications, especially under Mussolini. Mussolini loves the idea of family separated because then these immigrants keep sending money, right, the remissions to Italy And they also have a very patriarchal view of immigration. So if you are an Italian man sending for your family or trying to marry, right, you’ll have a relatively easier time than if you are a woman, for example. And so, I don’t have– I– that was actually one of my research questions, there is no commitment, like consistent commitment to say, okay if family reunification is the way, let’s uh arrange for picture brides or something That I think, that’s– there’s a book there but I certainly didn’t see it to the extent that I thought it would be [Elizabeth]: Hmmm [Maddalena]: And I think it’s– it’s– it’s this is at least the conclusion I came to, so, between ’24 and ’52 these laws are used to reunite families that were already separated Aft– between ’52 and ’65, the laws have loosened enough, right, that you didn’t have to kind of premeditate and scheme about marrying someone to bring them over, right But at that point a lot of the focus is on, “Hey, how about cousins? First cousins?” [laughs] So they keep trying to enlarge rather than you know creating these schemes of let’s all marry each other, they say, “How about– we’re Italian, right? Let’s make our family really big. Let’s replicate what we had in Italy in the United States!” So they literally are there arguing, “What about my uncle, and what about my aunt and my cousins, and my third great cousin?” Right? So, they– I mean, they really take it to as far as they can when it comes to the notion of family [Elizabeth]: But you also talk in the book, as they do that, the laws the systems become increasingly complex, right, because there are different buckets of people, and there’s different preferences for people in the buckets [Maddalena]: Right [Elizabeth]: And every law just makes it that much worse [Maddalena]: And they also– right! And they also keep saying, “well how about a personal bill?” So every time a new law passes it’s like, “Well I think this person might fit.” And so at one point by the early 1960s, the Congress passes a lot of time just considering, evaluating these personal bills By literally applying to in– specific individuals which becomes ineffective, but it works at kind of wearing people over and saying, “Okay, I guess we do need immigration reform.” Because the system has become unsustainable [Elizabeth]: Okay two questions just popped up “Can you speak about eugenics in the 1924 law?” What’s the connection there? [Maddalena]: So, exactly in 1919 one of the leader said that immigration laws are a eugenic tool,

essentially. And he was one of the– he was part of the Immigration Restriction League, so one of the leading organizations that had a lot of influence on– in Congress and on the immigration committee So by– by 1919 they– the commitment, right, to use immigration laws to select certain kinds of immigrants is– is very blatantly stated, right And so, we’ve talked about family reunion as a positive, but there is a reason why family reunion was the only area at the time that legislators were willing to negotiate over And it’s because they’re– the immigrant calling for the family, usually a man, and be already vetted, right, by U.S. society, and so he would vouch for the rest of the family, and by bringing women and children that the thought was also that they would be less of a burden on the American economy, because the breadwinner would have to take care of them, right So even though in theory seems like a very generous idea, there is some problematic thinking behind embracing family reunion in ’24 But no one is– that one of the sponsors of the 1924 Act, Johnson, says that the 1924 is the new– marks the birth of a new America where the real Americans take America back, because they can– they finally have a say into who comes into the United States So they didn’t even have to use the word eugenics anymore, because that language was very much understood, right, in what they were trying to accomplish [Elizabeth]: It’s very clear We have some more questions. A question about with the U.S passing restrictions laws how that– that influence other countries who are – they’re calling pro-immigrant competitors – but say how does that influence other nations around the world who, in the 20th century, are also receiving large numbers of immigrants? [Maddalena]: So, what’s happening in the United States – it’s a two-part question – what’s happening in the United States at the turn of the 19th century, 1880s and 1920s, is not the exception, it’s actually the norm. In fact, if you look at all the English speaking countries, one after another, they all pass very similar laws. And in fact, they also collaborate. So you– the U.S and Canada tend to work quite closely because they want to make sure that immigrants don’t take care of the– don’t take advantage of the long border between the two countries. And so you can actually trace the– as this large movement of people happens around the globe – all these countries are frantically exchanging letters and ideas about how to restrict. And so they use remarkably similar strategies. And the more the U.S emerges as a– a world power, the more it tries to force other countries to help with its restrictionist regime, which is both an admission of its influence but also of an admission of the limitations, right. And so, for example at one point in the ’30s they– late ’20s early ’30s, they realized that it would be a lot easier, right, if immigrants were stopped completely– were stopped from leaving rather than doing all the processing and the vetting when they arrived And so you have a large push for historians, immigration historians, called remote control, right. But that means that these– these nations have to comply with these requests and oftentimes countries like Cuba, for example, says: Okay what do you want– what do you give us in return? And so on one end, right, the U.S. ends up exercising huge influence in terms of how people move but on the other hand is other countries trying to get something in return as well. But it’s– I think what’s fascinating- the closer you get to ’65 and even more to the present is the restriction it’s– it’s a– it’s a world web or it’s all interconnected and they all actively work together – even the Italian government, right, which absolutely hated the quota system, kept saying: What do– how can we help so that we can make sure that the

highest number possible of Italians comes? And they pass really restrictive passport laws even restrictive medical visits that are even stricter than the ones in the U.S And it’s– it’s all because they know that they need immigration but they also need to please the United States [Elizabeth]: And one big question from our viewer to wrap up with. Is there a country that has immigration laws the U.S. could emulate? What do you think? You kind of answered it! [Maddalena]: You know, I– so I’m gonna answer somewhat– there isn’t! Sorry, I’ll just say the most straightforward answer But I’d like to go back to the original 1965 bill, which was actually much more flexible and adjustable than what we ended up with. So one of the premises was that the United States shouldn’t set a specific record every year – that we should actually, every year, we should decide what kind of immigrants we need, from where, what kind of skills and set a number tied to the economy. So, it’s– it’s very much a utilitarian argument. But I– I think a good immigration policy should account, right, for some flexibility in regular immigration, in refugee crisis because we just don’t know, right, what kind of developments we’ll have from year to year But that was like the– the first piece of the bill that was– was like too much, too much, too much, too much power to the poli– to– because it would– it was– the president would have been in charge of deciding the number. But I think I, I want to get back– these laws can be changed, right. I think to me it’s striking that a hundred years ago, right, none of what we have now was there. So there are other ways, right, to regulate– regulate immigration. And the other pieces I would say, and I think I mentioned it earlier, is that we should– we should never forget– sometimes we hide behind immigration laws and we forget that we’re talking about people, right. And you know, if we don’t like immigration, perhaps we should think about– we should look at why– why people leave. I don’t think that leaving is easy for anyone, even the most privileged of immigrants. And so, I think we should look at immigration policy more holistically, if you will [Elizabeth]: And I want to take, on that note, this last few moments of the talk – I want to shift away from the book to your work on another project, The Immigration Syllabus, because it’s an excellent resource for learning more about the people behind the laws – at every stage – and then we’re going to put a link to it in the comments below. But I just love for you to tell us about the project and what people can learn and how it can be a resource for them [Maddalena]: Yeah, so in 2016 a group of us realized that immigration was going to play a much bigger role than people realize, not just during the election cycle, but also afterwards. And so we decided that providing a historical perspective would be useful And our first goal was really– the past doesn’t repeat itself, right We’re here because of what happened in the past and understanding how we end up with an immigration system that is so cumbersome, punitive and dysfunctional is important because these elements are a product of specific historical developments And if they lack flexibility, you end up with these unintended consequences that actually make it even harder, right to- I mean, right now, it’s– it’s really, really hard for an immigrant just to stay legal – even someone who follows the rules and everything, right. And so understanding how we got here is really important but we also– so we want to provide a policies to an immigration history but we also wanted to remind people of the role that immigrants have had and and to look at the United States through the eyes of immigrants because I think our biggest fear, which unfortunately turned out to be true, is that some of the humanizing language would justify all sorts of laws that were incredibly punitive. I mean

not– it’s not just the immigration system that is dead for all intents and purposes now but if we think about what’s going on to with exiles and refugees it’s– it’s really horrifying [Elizabeth]: So what, exactly, is The Immigration Syllabus – for everybody? [Maddalena]: Well, we imagine the syllabus, and we walk you through, and the history that we’ve covered in this conversation from several points of view And just to give you a heads up, it will probably have a a few additional weeks pretty soon because we want– we really care about bringing the history to the present. But we also want to, I guess, answer some of the questions we’ve had. It’s like, so where do we go from here and what can we learn from what others have done in the past? And so you have the journal articles, monographs, but also primary sources where you get to read the stories of the immigrants themselves [Elizabeth]: I encourage you to check it out It will be in the comments below. We are out of time, but thank you so much for joining us tonight [Maddalena]: Thank you for having me, this was amazing. Thank you everyone We’re gonna have a link in the below but the book is “Unwanted” from University of North Carolina Press – so put a link down there to it. Thank you so much for joining us and we hope to have you back for another talk soon [Maddalena]: I hope so too. Thank you [Elizabeth]: Goodnight everybody!