Exclusion of Some Naturalized Citizens

Photo of Ettore Patrizi
Ettore Patrizi, editor, in his L'Italia office ca. 1917. A naturalized citizen, he was excluded from California in October, 1942.
The Western Defense Commander, Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt, wanted to remove not only aliens, but naturalized citizens from the "sensitive" military zones along the coast. He succeeded in removing even American-born Japanese Americans. However, after much debate and no little confusion for those concerned, Washington, particularly the Attorney General and the President, decided against removing Italians and Germans. The logistics, not to mention the political and economic repercussions, were too formidable. Nonetheless, DeWitt won a small victory when he was allowed to initiate an Individual Exclusion Program for naturalized citizens.

In the Fall of 1942 -- after the Italians had been removed from the enemy classification -- 254 Italian and German naturalized citizens received exclusion orders. These orders gave them ten days to move out of the designated zones. Most were German immigrants and West Coast residents, but some lived on the eastern and southern coasts of the United States.

In San Francisco, about 20 Italian Americans, both men and women, were excluded. They were community leaders, Italian-language school instructors, staff of the pro-fascist Italian-language newspaper. L'Italia, and members of the Italian War Veterans. Most were long-time residents of the city and had been naturalized citizens for many years.

Photo of May, 1942 San Francisco Chronicle headlines
This May, 1942 San Francisco Chronicle headlines the Tenney Committee's conclusion about a fascist threat in San Francisco.
What led to the selection of these specific individuals for exclusion? The community leaders and L'Italia staff had been named as pro-fascists by witnesses before the State Legislature's UnAmerican Activities Committee at hearings held in San Francisco in May of 1942. The hearings were held in the Borgia Room of the St. Francis Hotel, the irony of which none of the senators seemed to recognize. The Tenney Committee -- named after its chair, state Senator Jack Tenney -- concluded, after four days of testimony, that three community leaders, Sylvester Andriano, Ettore Patrizi, and Renzo Turco, were "the leaders of the Fascist movement in California." They further concluded that Patrizi's newspaper L'Italia, and the Italian-language school DopoScuola, were centers of Fascist propaganda. Some of these names had been previously brought to the attention of the FBI, but it had made no arrests of any naturalized citizens.

In September, the Army acted. It held individual hearings similar to those for internees -- no charges were made, no legal counsel allowed. Then, it served exclusion orders, commanding each individual to move out of Military Zones 1 and 2, which covered about two-thirds of California. Ettore Patrizi, 77 tears old, a U.S. resident and naturalized citizen since 1899, received his exclusion order while hospitalized. Andriano and Turco, both attorneys, had to vacate their homes and law offices, and were unable to practice law where they relocated. Nino Guttadauro, president of the War Veterans and business manager of the Crab Fishermen's Protective Association, left San Francisco to find work and housing for this family, which he eventually found in Reno, the nearest city with available jobs.

Photo of 1940 San Francisco Police Commission with Mayor Angelo Rossi and Sylvester Andriano
San Francisco Police Commission, ca. 1940, with Mayor Angelo Rossi, left, and Sylvester Andriano, 4th from left. Both were accused at the Tenney Committee hearings, with Andriano excluded in October, 1942.

These moves took place in October 1942, just before the Government announced that Italians were no longer "enemy aliens." That did not change the status of the "dangerous" aliens who had been interned earlier, nor of these naturalized citizens who had now been excluded.

Nino Guttadauro, excluded in 1942, finally found work in Reno, Nevada. His family then joined him in Reno.
The excludees were allowed to return to their homes at the end of 1943, following Italy's surrender in September. Most had spent about 15 months in exile. They had been reporting regularly to the FBI in cities like Reno where they had relocated. Why this exclusion was necessary, and why the FBI could not have kept them under surveillance in their own homes, had never been explained. After all, in October 1942, the invasion fears had greatly lessened . . . and opportunities for sabotage were just as great in Reno as in San Francisco.

The same questions arise regarding those aliens evacuated from the coast. More than a few -- Angelina Bruno of Pittsburg was one -- had moved to houses overlooking Army bases, where sabotage could have been a real possibility. It seemed not to matter. Neither did the fact that a large proportion of the Pittsburg evacuees were women and a few men too old to fish. Were such people a threat? Were such lives disrupted to any good purpose?