Many people may be aware of the forced internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, but fewer know that the same executive order also resulted in for the mandatory relocation of more than 10,000 Italian-Americans and limited the movements of another 600,000 Italian-Americans across the country.
One morning in spring 1942, federal officers knocked on the door of a New Haven home. The man who opened the door, Pasquale DeCicco, was a pillar of his community and had been a U.S. citizen for more than 30 years. He was taken to a federal detention center in Boston, where he was fingerprinted, photographed and held for three months. Then he was sent to another detention facility on Ellis Island.
Still with no hearing scheduled, he was moved again to an immigration facility at Fort Meade, Maryland. On July 31, he was formally declared an enemy alien of the United States. He remained at Fort Meade until December 1943, months after Italy’s surrender. He was never shown any evidence against him, nor charged with any crime.