Every minority group in the United States had faced discrimination of some sort throughout their brief histories in the country and the case of Italian Americans is no different. Although this community cannot be said to have been ‘trafficked’ into the United States the way Africans and Latinos were trafficked, their struggles have many parallels. And although mass migration of Italian into the United States took place earlier than that of Latin Americans, their histories are similar in that they had to confront discrimination and prosecution upon their arrival. The prevailing political circumstances toward the end of the nineteenth century made the Italian immigrant group more participatory in labor activities. Their presence was first noticed in the labor movements of New York. Their native rural background acted as a deterrent in unionizing. Yet, under the leadership of the pre-eminent Socialist Salvatore Ninfo, Italian construction laborers working on subway projects went on strike. Once this precedent was set, other landmark events in the Italian labor activism followed. These include the 1909 protests of Italian dressmakers and the 1910 strikes of clock makers, shirt makers and small-time artisans (Nelson, 1996).
This tumultuous and most influential period of the history of Italian Americans also saw the trial and execution of Vanzetti and Sacco. Their sudden and brutal demise revealed to the community their true standing in American society and prompted them to fight against all forms of discrimination with greater vehemence. One of the vehicles through which this radical activism took flight was through the Italian American press of the day. For example, the Italian American press succeeded in bringing together all members of the community (subscribing to various political ideologies) under the movement for justice. The lasting legacy of the support for Sacco and Vanzetti, albeit posthumously, lies in the fact that both the luminaries were open advocates of anarchist principles. This goes on to show how the motivation to struggle and achieve greater common good overpowered minor hindrances in the form of political and economic positions to bring lasting changes in the American judicial landscape in regard to basic civil rights. It has to be added, that, the Italian American agitation following the execution of Vanzetti and Sacco was one of many parallel streams of activism seen at this period. Though the various streams dealt with different aspects of the impending change, they were all connected at the core by their vision of a more amicable American society (Trasciatti, 2003).
In the case of Italian American immigration into the United States, not only were they made to face discrimination from outside, but also within their group. There is a long record of how the Northern Italians looked down upon Italians from down south, especially from Sicily. There were many factors contributing to this outcome. The southerners were slightly dark skinned and their way of is more agrarian compared to the industrial north. Hence the identity of Italian immigrants in the United States cannot solely be attached to immigration and subsequent integration into the society. In other words, the southern Italians (also called Black Italians) had to fight discrimination twice over. And that onerous task is reflected in the degree of success attained by this subgroup in assimilating into the mainstream American representation today (Quinn, 2004).
And any discussion of human trafficking into the United States would be incomplete without mentioning commercial sexual exploitation.
“The largest subset of human trafficking is sexual trafficking–the trafficking of young women and children for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation. Among those trafficked internationally, estimates indicate that approximately 50 percent are children and 70 percent to 80 percent are female. Among females, roughly 70 percent are trafficked for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation (U.S. Department of State, 2004). In addition to representing the largest component of human trafficking, sexual trafficking has grown dramatically over the past decade.” (Hodge, 2008)