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Italian and Jewish Mobilization against Restrictive Immigration Laws, 1882–1965

By Maddalena Marinari

280 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5293-1
    Published: January 2020
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-5292-4
    Published: January 2020
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-5294-8
    Published: October 2019

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In the late nineteenth century, Italians and Eastern European Jews joined millions of migrants around the globe who left their countries to take advantage of the demand for unskilled labor in rapidly industrializing nations, including the United States. Many Americans of northern and western European ancestry regarded these newcomers as biologically and culturally inferior--unassimilable--and by 1924, the United States had instituted national origins quotas to curtail immigration from southern and eastern Europe. Weaving together political, social, and transnational history, Maddalena Marinari examines how, from 1882 to 1965, Italian and Jewish reformers profoundly influenced the country’s immigration policy as they mobilized against the immigration laws that marked them as undesirable.

Strategic alliances among restrictionist legislators in Congress, a climate of anti-immigrant hysteria, and a fickle executive branch often left these immigrants with few options except to negotiate and accept political compromises. As they tested the limits of citizenship and citizen activism, however, the actors at the heart of Marinari’s story shaped the terms of debate around immigration in the United States in ways we still reckon with today.

About the Author

Maddalena Marinari is associate professor of history at Gustavus Adolphus College and coeditor of A Nation of Immigrants Reconsidered: U.S. Society in An Age of Restriction, 1924–1965.
For more information about Maddalena Marinari, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

“This timely study retraces the fraught political history of American immigration policy with emphasis on the work of Italian and Jewish pro-immigration lobbyists who challenged congressional restrictionists. Marinari . . . emphasizes debates among pro-immigration activists concerning strategy, race, and whether to compromise on principles. . . . A well-researched, richly detailed book that provides valuable background concerning the immigration issues of the present.”--CHOICE

“Weaving together political, social, and transnational history, Marinari examines how, from 1882 to 1965, Italian and Jewish reformers mobilized against US immigration laws that marked them as biologically and culturally inferior, unassimilable, and undesirable. She finds that strategic alliances among restrictionist legislators in Congress, a climate of anti-immigrant hysteria, and a fickle executive branch thwarted their efforts but that as they tested the limits of citizenship and citizen activism, they shaped the terms of debate around immigration in ways still relevant today.”--Law & Social Inquiry

"Reflecting significant, new insights on immigration policy and ethnic politics in the United States, and fortified by excellent historical research, Marinari has written a book that will be essential reading for anyone interested in the history of immigration politics and policy in the United States, illuminating how ethnicity, religion, family, and foreign policy collide."--Daniel J. Tichenor, University of Oregon

"Marinari introduces us to a timely and surprisingly understudied subject and makes a significant revisionist intervention in the history of ethnic identity and politics. Though focusing on Italian and Jewish immigrants, this book encourages reflection on the transnational processes that all immigrant groups encounter."--Virginia Yans, Rutgers University