Mother Jones reports on August 12 that when Trump's recently appointed USCIS director Ken Cuccinelli was asked by a reporter why the Latino community shouldn't feel targeted by the Trump-Miller new public charge rule, which is expected to bar hundreds of thousands of nonwhite immigrants from receiving green cards, he replied as follows.

"Well, first of all, this is a 140-year-old legal structure...This is not new. The same question might have been asked when my Italian ancestors were coming."

Mother Jones comments:

"Cuccinelli is right. There's noting new about using the public charge rule to target immigrants from nations disliked by nativists. Early on, it was people like Cuccinelli's Italians. The New York Times argued in 1887 that the public charge rule would prevent Italy from sending 'monthly consignments of 'Neopolitan mendicants' and stop nations from stop nations from improving their ave of citizenship by lowering and polluting ours.' Today the targets are different, but it's the same message: Send them back."


Trump Revives a 19th Century Scheme to Block Poor Immigrants

Stephen Miller has been justly criticized for many sources, including his own uncle and childhood rabbi, for his hypocrisy in promoting bigoted measures against brown immigrants while ignoring America's shameful history of prejudice against Jewish immigrants including his own great-andfather, see, POLITICO Magazine, exactly one year ago, on August 13, 2018:

Stephen Miller is an Immigration Hypocrite. I
know Because I'm His Uncle

In the same, while Cuccinelli is obviously aware of Americas's equally shameful history pf prejudice against Italian immigrants, he doesn't seem to mind repeating it, as long as the targets are mainly Asian, African, Middle Eastern and Latin American immigrants, instead of Southern and Eastern European ones as in the past.

Perhaps the USCIS director needs to remind himself a little but on how grave the prejudice that his own ancestors had to face really was, and how instrumental the Public Charge laws of the past were in carrying out this prejudice.

Cuccinelli, for example, might want to refresh his memory by reading a January, 2019 article by Lucarino-Dickmann on the site History & Culture called:

America: Land of Liberty? Prejudice against Italians in the early 20th Century

Lucarino-Dickmann writes:

"Italian immigrants and their culture faced many forms of discrimination in the U.S. at the tart of the 20th century...This prejudice was initiated by the large number of Italian immigrants that arrived at that time - more than 2 million from 1901-1910 alone. Other causes included historical events, rising nationalism and pre-existing ethnic enmities."

America's current USCIS chief might also wt to read an op-ed article by Helene Stapinski (also of Italian ancestry) in the June 2, 2017 New York Times called:

When America Barred Italians

She writes:

"...a growing sea of American nativists - branded the Southern Italians savages and rapists, blaming them for the crime that was on the rise in the United States."

And this was more than a century before Donald Trump said the same thing about Mexicans. What else is new in America;s continuing history of anti-immigrant bigotry?

Stapinski also refers to the findings of notorious anti-immigration commission of the period:

"The United States Immigration Commission concluded in the infamous 1911 Dillingham Report; 'Certain kinds of criminality are inherent in the Italian race. In the popular mind, crimes of personal violence, robbery, blackmail and extortion are peculiar to the people of Italy."

However, while Director Cuccinelli may need to do some brushing up on the full extend of prejudice that existed against his own immigrant forebears - prejudice that led to Italian immigrants being barred from the US almost entirely by Congress in 1924 - he is right about one thing. Public Charge rules were a key component of carrying bigotry against Italian and other targeted immigrants into effect.

In fact, using Public Charge to exclude or expel immigrants from unwanted ethnic groups goes back more than the 140 years that Cuccinelli mentions. It goes back at least to the time of the anti-Irish Know-Nothing movement beginning in the 1840's, if not even earlier. See, Ibrahim HirsiL (December 19, 2018):

Administration's 'public charge' provision has roots in colonial U.S.

I will discuss the history of Public Charge as a tool of bigotry against Irish, Asian, Italian, Jewish and other minority immigrants in more detail in a forthcoming comment..

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law