This research analyzes U.S. immigration policies in the 1930s, a period of international economic and political transformations, in order to explore connections among Mexican and Italian migrants. Racial narratives concerning immigrants, combined with a swelling of the Bureau of Immigration, created a complex situation for transnational migrants.
Due to periodization within immigration history, most previous scholarship discusses U.S. immigration policy up to the 1924 Johnson-Reed Act and then focuses on European immigrants’ economic and social mobility after World War II. Consequently, the interwar period has been overlooked. Statistics drawn from the U.S Department of Labor suggest that the situation for Italians in the 1930s was unique when compared to other European groups. Only immigrants from Italy were recorded as belonging to two distinct races and in many situations numbers regarding departures and deportations were higher for Italians than other Europeans.
Most importantly, U.S. deportation policy, often considered and certainly portrayed by the Department of Labor as a domestic issue, invoked foreign relations and requires a transnational analysis. A deportation proceeding involving the return of one individual in reality forced international relations among various nations. Deportations pushed immigrants, workers, and those involved in grassroots organizations into the sphere of foreign affairs. Italians, as one of the largest groups of transnational migrant laborers, have been an integral part of this interwar immigrant experience.
|Keywords:||Immigrants, Deportation, Transnationalism|
Ph.D. Student and Teaching Assistant, History Department, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, USA