Italian Immigration

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The reason my family and I live in America today is due largely to my

great-grandparents, from both my mother and fathers side. They immigrated

here from the towns of Naples and Calabria both located in the southern part

of Italy. From the many stories I heard about my great-grandparents, I

learned that the main reason for them coming to this country, as for many of

the immigrants, was to start a better life for their families.

It was between 1880 and 1920 that over four million Italians were

recorded as immigrating to the United States. During this vast emigration it

wa the U.S. that was the largest recipient of Italian Immigrants in the world.

The year 1871 can be considered as the starting point of many Italians

migrating from the southern part of Italy to America. This is due to the fact

that in the year 1871 Italy had become a unified nation with a democratic

constitution. Although it was a major turning point for the country as a

whole the southern part of Italy reaped no benefits but actually became

worse. Taxes increased, land was left untended, little was done to stop floods

and improve the soil, and disease took its toll on the people and crops. This

resulted in thousands of farmers unable to make a living and support their

families even skilled workers could no longer find employment. Through out

this time period the majority of immigrants were males between the ages of

24 and 45. Most Italian Immigrants never really planned to stay permanently in America. Those with the intent of being migratory laborers earned

themselves a special name they were called “Birds of Passage”.

Their expectations were to only stay as long as it took to earn

enough money to help improve their families situations back home. While

others came with the intent of earning enough money to be able to

bring their families to come live with them in America.

The trip to America was not an easy one for any immigrant coming to

America from over seas. In the early 1800’s the average amount of time it

took by boat to get to America was 40 days which depended greatly on the

weather. It was not until the 1900’s that conditions approved somewhat and

the average amount of time reduced greatly to about one week by boat with

a steerage fare around thirty dollars. During this time more and more of the

immigrants coming to the country were women and children. Immigrants

who entered the United States between 1892 and 1924 went through the

Ellis Island immigration station. “Isola Della Lacrime” (island of tears) was

what many Italians called Ellis Island. It was built on a small island in New

York Harbor. Although it was originally suggested that an immigration

facility be built on Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty stands. This

idea came with much opposition many complaid that the immigrants would

taint the Statue of Liberty this ended any effort built Liberty Island. The

entire Process at Ellis Island took around three or more hours depending on

if everything went smoothly. Fear struck the hearts of many immigrants

with the name Ellis Island because it was there that many families had either

got sent back to their countries or separated , thus the name “Island of tears”.

Once they were finally able to set foot in America many Italian

immigrants were than faced with many challenges. Most came with hardly

any money in their pockets and did not have the means to afford room and

board. It did not take long before many Italian Immigrants faced prejudice,

poverty, and the isolation of being in a new country. The Hositliy that was

aimed toward the Italian immigrants came out of the rising concern with

large scale immigration into America. It was also the unfriendly attitude of

the press that helped to spreas and fuel the prejudice towards Italian...
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