The recodification of the nationality law forced the INS to review the entire legal language and reassess its administration. It was also possible to reinterpret Article 2169, which was not repealed but replaced by Article 303 for the purposes of the NSI. Although the 1940 Act only covers naturalization, the legal links between racial admissibility and immigration were established earlier. Therefore, any change in racial classification in the administration of naturalization could affect racial classification in immigration. His statement in this regard is probably correct. The fact is, he is not a white person. To determine who was white and who was not, Campbell was happy to leave the matter to the courts, whose decisions would not be based on science but on a “common understanding”: one of the first cases involved the case of police officer George Shishim. Born in Zahle, Lebanon, Shishim emigrated to the United States in 1894 and became a police officer in Venice, California. [60] According to Gualtieri (2009), the “Shishim trial began to prove its whiteness after arresting the son of a prominent lawyer for disturbing public order.” [60] The detainee argued that his arrest was invalid because Shishim did not know and was therefore not eligible for citizenship. [61] Shishim`s lawyers, supported by the Syrian-Lebanese and Arab communities, argued that the Arabs shared Caucasian ancestry and were therefore white. Justice Frank Hutton, who presided over the case, cited a precedent that the term “white person” includes Syrians.

[60] Despite this decision, neither U.S. immigration authorities nor courts across the country systematically defined Arabs as white, and many Arabs were deported in the 1940s. [59] [58] In 1909, the United States Court of Appeals in Massachusetts ruled that Armenians classified as Asian Turks were legally white. This led to the conclusion that other Asian races, such as Filipinos, Japanese, and Syrians, could also be white. In contrast to American attitudes toward race, the INS`s statistical methods in 1940 remained largely the same as at the turn of the century. The ability, willingness or practicality to change the INS`s racial classification and coding depended on how well the service fulfilled its legal obligations to record and report racial statistics. The fact that the NSI could modify or supplement its statistical system became evident in the late 1930s when additions and changes were made to the list of races or peoples. Further changes became possible after Henry B. Hazard, in his 1942 memorandum to Commissioner Harrison, recognized that “race” and “people” were not defined by law but by administrative practice. By far the most pressing and embarrassing item on the list of races or peoples in the late 1930s was the term “Hebrew.” The American Jewish Committee protested as early as 1930 against the classification of Hebrew as a race, warning that such a “inquisition” in religion by the government was “inappropriate and subject to unfortunate abuse.” At the time, the Labor Department attorney wrote a lengthy memorandum on the legal requirement to include race — and Hebrew as a race — on immigration and naturalization forms. The Department found the American Jewish Committee`s complaint unfounded and denied its request.41 In the years that followed, as Nazi persecution of Jews in Europe increased, dissatisfaction with the presence of Hebrew on the list grew and deepened.

After the entry of large numbers of Sicilians into the United States, legal restrictions were introduced to stop the immigration of Sicilians. The Emergency Quota Act and the Immigration Act of 1924 reduced immigration from Sicily, except for parents of Sicilians who were already in the United States. [93] In parts of the South, during the Jim Crow era, Sicilians, even more than Italians in general, were affected by discriminatory policies. The reason Sicilians were much more susceptible to racial discrimination than other Mediterranean groups (such as Northern Italians or Greeks) was that they were considered much darker. [ref. needed] This led to one of the most notable hate crimes against Sicilian Americans, the trial of nineteen Sicilian immigrants for the murder of New Orleans Police Chief David Hennessy in 1890, which ended with eleven of them being lynched by a white vigilante. [ref. needed] In parts of the South during the Jim Crow era, Italians “took a racial middle ground within the otherwise irreconcilable binary caste system of whites over blacks.” Although Italians were considered white for naturalization and suffrage, their social position was that they were at best a “problem.” Their racial status was influenced by their appearance and the fact that they did not “behave” and performed physical work normally reserved for blacks.