Frank Capra Oversimplified the Italian-American Story

In His Life and Career, the Sicilian-Born Director Absorbed His Adopted Country’s Ambivalence Toward Italians

Frank Capra, the director of It’s a Wonderful Life, called the film his favorite, and even screened it for his own family every holiday season. The movie hit close to home in another way: Capra was attempting to represent the story of Italian-Americans like himself, who had a complicated path toward assimilation during the first half of the twentieth century.

Francesco Capra was born in 1897 in Bisaquino, near Palermo, Sicily, the youngest of seven children. (“Capra” means goat in Italian; the town’s name is derived from the Arabic “rich in …

The 41-Volume Government Report That Turned Immigration Into a Problem

In 1911, the Dillingham Commission Set a Half-Century Precedent for Screening Out 'Undesirable' Newcomers

The Dillingham Commission is today little known. But a century ago, it stood at the center of a transformation in immigration policy, exemplifying Americans’ simultaneous feelings of fascination and fear …

For Refugees in America, Even the Light Switches Can Be Bewildering

Getting into the U.S. Is Hard. Adapting to Life Here Is Harder Still.

In the aftermath of the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, politicians in the U.S. have voiced skepticism about the arrival of foreigners on their shores—and even question the …