David: As I wrote Working toward Whiteness, I came to see one historic task on the New Deal — and one in which it succeeded — as the fostering of fuller U.S. citizenship among immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and their kids. But this very achievement separated poorer and often despised immigrant workers from Europe and workers of color in unprecedented ways. The New Deal never rethought the draconian racist immigration restriction policies of the 20s, of course, but its electoral base rested significantly on “ethnic” voters, whose activism was both hemmed in and rewarded by the Democrats. Southern and Eastern Europeans were included as secondary leaders of the new industrial unions, and as entitled citizens qualified for social security, unemployment compensation, and fair labor standards protections, even as workers of color were largely left out of key areas of the welfare state. This was critically true in the case of massive federal subsidies to (white) homeowners through the Home Owners Loan Corporations and the Federal Housing Authority.
David Roediger, author of Working Toward Whiteness: How America's Immigrants Became White and director of the Center on Democracy in a Multiracial Society at the University of Illinois in Urbana
"If race is real and not just a method for the haves to decide who will be have-nots, then all European immigrants, from Ireland to Greece would have been 'white' the moment they arrived here. Instead, as documented in David Roediger?s excellent Working Toward Whiteness, they were long considered inferior, nearly subhuman, and certainly not white."— Mother Jones