Matt has an important post on this subject. It’s really disturbing to see how much of the anti-immigrant push comes from legislators of Italian extraction — seeing as the first regime of laws put in place to broadly restrict immigration, in the 1920s, were put in place BY PEOPLE WHO HATED ITALIAN IMMIGRANTS. (They also weren’t too fond of Eastern Europeans, like my grandparents…)
In debates on immigration and its many sub-issues, you often hear Rhody Italo-Americans saying that “my grandparents spoke English when they came here…” or something similar.
Well, a little bit of legal research shows that this is not true. Here is a Rhode Island Supreme Court case from 1902 (State v. Michele Terline, 23 R.I. 530)….
…”The defendant requests the court to charge the jury that as it appears from the evidence that the defendant gave his testimony in the Sixth District Court in the case against Francesco Di Nardo in the Italian language, and the jury find that the testimony was so given, then, inasmuch as the indictment charges that the testimony was given in the English language, there is a variance between the evidence and the indictment, and the defendant must be found not guilty.”