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The Italian-American Interment During World War II - Research Paper Example

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The people that the American government chose to unlawfully incarcerate were never actually proven to be enemies of the state. They were nothing more than ordinary immigrants trying to start a new life in the land of hope. …
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The Italian-American Interment During World War II
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Roosevelt who at first admired the ways of the Italians via his affinity with the soon to be dictator Benito Mussolini, and then decided that the very person he admired was now a threat because of Mussolini's solid partnership with Adolf Hitler under the “Pact of Steel.” It was this paranoia on the part of Roosevelt that led to acts of Congress in the years of 1935-1939 that allowed for the illegal internment of Italians and eventually, the Germans and Japanese.

Examples of this legislative work include the Alien Registration Act of 1940 and the Dangerous Cargo Act. All of the actions which the American government took against the enemy aliens on their land led to the creation of Nazi-like internment camps where Italians were held indefinitely without any charges being filed and their movement limited within the area of their incarceration. Thus, they were not allowed to hold jobs or own any businesses in their community. These inhumanities were but the tip of the iceberg when it came to the atrocities of war against the Italians residing in America without any legal status, though.
If one were of Italian descent and living in the United States at that time without the benefit of citizenship, he and his family would most likely end up in an internment camp, regardless of the fact that the Italian Americans were one of the largest immigrant groups in the country at the time. The Italian immigrants were just like any other immigrant family in the United States. They struggled to retain their heritage while doing their best to become a part of the new culture that they chose to involve themselves with. It was these types of people who became the targets as alien threats in America. Mainly because of their adjustment issues, the old time Italians who could not adjust to the American way of life found themselves agreeing with Mussolini in terms of Fascist ideology, which they came to view in terms of a renewed spirit of their homeland that they needed to honor. 2 These sentiments also caused a great divide between the immigrant Italians and their first generation born Italian-American offspring who now identified more with the land of their birth in terms of heritage rather than the homeland of their parents. The arrests of the Italians living in America began on December 7, 1941. People arrested were part of the so-called Custodial List of the FBI that Pres. Roosevelt had the agency compile in the event that the United States needed to get involved in the ongoing World War. The list was meant to protect the country from being infiltrated by enemy forces and was set into action through the power of Title 50 of the U.S. Code, based on the 1798 Alien and Sedition Act which allowed for the arrest of “alien threats” during times of emergency. 3 Such was the perceived threat from the Italian immigrants during this time that the government began a rigorous campaign to quash the Italian heritage of first generation Italian Americans by declaring Italian an enemy language. The slogan for their campaign was “Don't Speak the Enemy's Language! Speak American!” These posters lined the Italian-American communities during the war time era and saw a rapid decline in the use of Italian in the country since business owners decided not to speak the language in their place of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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