“The Forgotten: Transnational Migrants and Deportees of the 1920s and 1930s”

By Ashley Zampogna.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.173-184. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 628.166KB).

Ashley Zampogna

Ph.D. Student and Teaching Assistant, History Department, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, USA

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the global history program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I received my M.A. from Youngstown State University. I have been interested in Italian immigration for a few years now. My M.A. thesis analyzed tensions between an Italian-American community and the Ku Klux Klan in Niles, OH. I recently published an article in E.Polis (a UWM Urban Studies journal) titled “Canoli in the Cream City” in the fall of 2009. Since entering into the global history program at UWM, I have become interested in viewing immigration globally and comparatively. I believe immigrant identities are complex, and I feel that the 1930s have been overlooked by immigration historians. The presentation I am submitting for this conference is the result of the initial stages of my dissertation research. My advisor is Rachel Buff.