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Sons of Italy® Endorses World War II Violations, Law Enforcement Bills

Largest Italian-American Grassroots Organization Backs S. 1909 and H.R. 2710

Contact: Diane E. Crespy, (202) 547-2900 dcrespy@osia.org

Washington, D.C., July 28, 2000 - The Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA) has endorsed two important bills currently in Congress, S. 1909, the Wartime Violations of Italian American Civil Liberties Act, and H.R. 2710, the National Law Enforcement Museum Act. Both pieces of legislation hit close to home with OSIA, the largest and longest-existing organization of Italian-Americans, which has continually enhanced and preserved Italian-American culture and history and supported various projects of significance to all Americans, including the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.

OSIA is calling on the Senate to pass S. 1909, legislation that would help bring to light the widely unknown period of Italian-American internment and restrictions that occurred during World War II. The bill, originally introduced by Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Rick Lazio (R.-N.Y.) as H.R. 2442, calls on the president on behalf of the U.S. government to acknowledge the infringement of civil rights for more than a half million Italian Americans during the war. Passed by the House of Representatives on Nov. 10, 1999, the bill also requires the U.S. Department of Justice to compile detailed reports of these violations.

During World War II many Italian Americans were relocated to internment camps, subject to curfews, forced to give up their jobs and carry identification cards, and required to surrender household items such as flashlights and short-wave radios. Thanks to "Una Storia Segreta," a traveling exhibit of artifacts, memorabilia, photographs, and correspondence created by the American Italian Historical Association Western Regional Chapter and originally sponsored by OSIA, Americans are learning about this devastating chapter of U.S. history.

OSIA and its anti-defamation arm, the Commission for Social Justice® (CSJ) have been active supporters of both the exhibit and the legislation. OSIA played a major role in pushing H.R. 2442 through the House of Representatives and continues to urge support in the Senate.

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OSIA is also supporting H.R. 2710, which would enable the construction of a National Law Enforcement Museum on federal land in Washington, D.C. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) would be responsible for building the museum on the site where its outdoor memorial of the same name is located.

OSIA, through its philanthropic branch the Sons of Italy Foundation® (SIF), was instrumental in creating the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, which was dedicated by President and Mrs. George Bush in 1990. The memorial was created to honor those who lost their lives in the line of duty. The SIF is the largest non-corporate, non-police group sponsor, giving a total of $50,000 to the project. To date, the SIF has given close to $70 million to education, medical research, disaster relief, cultural preservation, and other special projects.

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OSIA urges you to contact your congressional representatives (for H.R. 2710) and senators (for S. 1909) to support these bills. To find out if your members of congress are sponsoring either of these bills you can contact their offices through the U.S. Capitol switchboard (202-224-3121) or look up the legislation at http://thomas.loc.gov.