Josephine tells us of the complicated route her mother, Rosaria, took in order to join her husband, Adolfo, in New York. Not only did Rosaria have to stow away on a ship, she also had to come into the U.S. through Canada.
Why was it so difficult for Rosaria Baldizzi to enter this country in the early 1920s? It had to do with a tradition of nativist sentiment in the U.S. Fueled by racism and a fear that immigrants would steal jobs from "real" Americans, "nativism" translated into fears that an influx of newcomers would cause the country to lose its essential character.
Nativist notions sparked Congressional restrictions on immigration, many of which still have an impact today. The first Congressional legislation restricting immigration was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. It denied Chinese laborers entrance to the United States and forbade naturalization of those already in America.
By 1924, restrictions and quotas also touched Southern European and Eastern European immigrants. The Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 limited the total European immigration to 150,000 per year, and reduced each nationality's allowance to 2 percent of its U.S. population in 1890. It was this kind of restriction that Rosaria Baldizzi faced on her long journey to the U.S.