They faced worst discrimination scenario since they were mainly Catholics and their willingness to work at lower wages had sent many American out of work.
Jenny Masur (1991) writes, "Between the 1940s and the 1970s millions of Immigrants migrated both internally and internationally. For the period 1946 to 1976 an estimated 7.5 million people emigrated from Italy. Between 1951 and 1975 some 4.5 million from the south alone; over half went to northern Italy while 42% emigrated abroad. Migration has not necessarily been a response to the performance of the Italian economy since both internal and external migration continued from 1951 to 1962, the years of the "economic miracle."
In short all immigrants faced problems when they tried to assimilate in the American culture. Most immigrants encountered significant problems such as prejudice and cultural clash and entering the American workforce was anything but easy for Immigrants and not to mention the language barrier, which turned every problem into a gigantic one. There are some who would describe their experience as wonderful but most of them would have some heart-wrenching stories to relate about their immigration. This doesn't mean they are not satisfied with their life here but the older generation of immigrants had to face some serious problems.
Racism was the biggest problem followed by religious conflicts, which forced many Italian to move back to their country. Since Americans in those were not really used to the idea of foreigners entering their country and taking over their jobs, they openly resented the immigrants and Immigrants were blamed for many of the nation's problems. This was not the case with one individual family, most of the Immigrants encountered difficulties which some were able to surmount while others were so disappointed that they felt it was better to go back to their homeland where they would be able to live in peace.
I and my family faced similar problems. Being a Russian Jew wasn't easy but fortunately for us, we came to the U.S. At a time when immigrants of many regions had already made a mark. They were no longer treated as aliens and while the job market was narrow, we still feel that it took us fewer years to adjust to the life in the U.S. compared to immigrants who came to this country in early 1900s. While assimilation is a good idea, I feel that nationalism has grown stronger in past few years resulting in many young people wanted to establish their cultural individuality and identity. I do not want to consider myself 100% American and in fact I am proud to be known as Russian-American. This helps me preserve my national identity while at the same time, it gives a sense of belonging in the U.S. I would forever want to hold on to my language while my English has improved considerably. I would definitely want my children to know Russian since language is the only important tie that can forever bind us to our roots.
1) Zohreh Sullivan, Exiled Memories: Stories from the Iranian Diaspora, 2001
2) Leonard Dinnerstein, Roger L. Nichols, David M. Reimers. Natives and Strangers: A Multicultural History of Americans. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996)
3) Statue of Liberty National Monument History: The Immigrant Journey: (Accessed 5th June 2005) http://www.americanparknetwork.com/parkinfo/sl/history/journey.html
4) Jenny Masur, Italy: Chapter 2B. Demography., Countries…