World War II
After America declared war on the Axis powers, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered that all Italian immigrants who had not become citizens would be considered “enemy aliens” just as he did with the Japanese. (Only 1,881 Italians were interred compared to the 110,000 to 120,000 Japanese.) Some were interred by the Justice Department under the Alien and Sedition Act. Despite the internment and the fact that it meant that they would be fighting against their ancestral homeland, many Italian-Americans fought for the US in World War II.
Post -World War II to the Present Day
After World War II the source of immigration to America shifted mainly to Mexico and Asia. Italian-Americans melted into the melting pot. They started moving from the Little Italy sections of their cities and move to the suburbs like everyone else. Familiarity resulted in acceptance as just another American. Performers like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and, a little later, Dion DiMucci became very popular, some expanding their careers to include movies. Having an Italian last name was no longer a problem for politicians.
Unfortunately the Mafia remained a destructive force for quite some time and has not completely disappeared even today. Many of the heads of the families were arrested and imprisoned, many of them dying there. Despite the fact that many Italian-Americans serve in police forces around the country, the stereotype of the Italian mobster is still prominent in TV shows like Law & Order and the Sopranos.
Text © 2019 Gary J. Sibio. All rights reserved.
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