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Italy-U.S Relations

The bilateral relations between Italy and the United States have deep historical roots. Today, they are grounded in a vast and capillary network of relationships not only between institutions, but also between local governments, civil societies, production systems, academic, cultural and scientific organizations, and the citizens of both countries. These relations also rely on a complex set of agreements in effect.

The United States enjoys warm and friendly relations with Italy. Relations between Italy and the United States rely on the presence of a large and talented Italian and Italian-American community which has created an impressive network of associations and cultural centers, museums, festivals, magazines, newspapers and blogs. Several media focused on the Italian community receive support from the Italian government.

The number of Italians registered with the Registry of Italians Residing Abroad (Anagrafe degli Italiani Residenti all'Estero - AIRE) in the United States is approximately 252,000 (data updated to December 31, 2015), distributed as follows among the 10 Italian Consular Districts: Boston :18,205; Chicago: 20,676; Detroit: 16,479; Philadelphia: 22,142; Houston: 9,021; Los Angeles: 22,957; Miami: 31,134; New York: 84,903; San Francisco: 19,949; Washington, DC: 6,490.

The “early generations” of Italians who arrived in the United States up until the early 1960s were joined by a more recent immigration wave which mainly consists of highly qualified citizens in possession of university degrees and beyond: from the young entrepreneurs who invest in the United States while maintaining the focus of their interests in Italy, to university professors, scientists and researchers who, for instance, have applied their discoveries and inventions in the industry sector, particularly in information technology and hi-tech.

Italy was a leading partner in the war against terrorism. The two are NATO allies and cooperate in the United Nations, in various regional organizations, and bilaterally for peace, prosperity, and security. Italy has worked closely with the United States and others on such issues as NATO and UN operations as well as with assistance to Russia and the New Independent States; Lebanon; the Middle East peace process; multilateral talks; Somalia and Mozambique peacekeeping; and combating drug trafficking, trafficking in women and children, and terrorism.

Under longstanding bilateral agreements flowing from NATO membership, Italy hosts important US military forces at Vicenza and Livorno (army); Aviano (air force); and Sigonella, Gaeta, and Naples -- homeport for the US Navy Sixth Fleet. The United States has about 13,000 military personnel stationed in Italy. Italy hosts the NATO Defense College in Rome.

Italy remains a strong and active transatlantic partner which, along with the United States, has sought to foster democratic ideals and international cooperation in areas of strife and civil conflict. Toward this end, the Italian Government cooperated with the United States in the formulation of defense, security, and peacekeeping policies.

Italy and the United States of America have strong military relationships and a long-lasting cooperation on defense matters. The Office of the Defense and Defense Cooperation Attaché is responsible for all Defense Cooperation activities between the two countries and works closely with all other Departments at the Italian Embassy.

The Office of the Defense and Defense Cooperation Attaché is headed by a General who represents the Italian Ministry of Defense and the Italian Chief of Defense in the United States. The purpose of its mission is multifold:

  • to advise the Italian Ambassador on defense issues;
  • to support, to introduce and to justify Italy defense policy to US military officials, by highlighting the capabilities, activities and forces’ equipment;
  • to provide the Italian Ministry of Defense with information on US political and military issues, to give Italian authorities information on American defense issues such as services evolution, equipment and overseas deployments;
  • to promote bilateral actions with the US Department of Defense;
  • to strengthen ties and to enhance mutual understanding by organizing Italian defense authorities’ visits to the US;
  • to assist and oversee the Italian officers posted on military facilities throughout the US.

Moreover, the Defense and Defense Cooperation Attaché is the representative of the Italian Defense General Secretariat (SGD). The specific objectives in the Cooperation area are threefold:

  • to promote cooperation between Italy and the United States of America, regarding Research and Technology, Programs and Tests for all Defense Services, making sure in particular that the equipment of the two Allies are designed to be fully interoperable;
  • to assist Italian and American Defense industries in their cooperative efforts and to participate in bilateral or multilateral discussions regarding Export Control;
  • to procure, for the benefit of the Italian Armed Forces, the necessary equipment, which is purchased in the US either from the Government (through Foreign Military Sales), or directly from US companies (through Direct Commercial Sales).

Between 1870 and 1920, the United States absorbed nearly 18 million immigrants – by 1930, more than five million were Italian – 80 percent of whom settled in New York City. To the established American population, descended from earlier British, Scandinavian and German immigrants, these foreigners were a new breed who looked, dressed, spoke and prayed differently. In fact, because of Italians’ olive skin, the Americans thought they were racially different, too – somewhere “in-between” black and white – and attributed to them different emotional traits and sexual behavior.

The Italians themselves did not help. Unlike the immigrant Jews, southern Italians had little experience assimilating into a foreign culture and lived tightly inside their own communities. The Americans thus marked them as a stubbornly separate group, probably dangerous and destined to remain outside mainstream society forever.

But the Italians also fascinated Americans, who considered them as passionate, sensual, violent, exotic and deeply familial – characteristics that differed markedly from their own Protestant mores. Repelled and yet attracted, they wanted to see this world in action, from a close but safe vantage point.

Enter the movies. Coppola’s films helped America fall in love with the Mafia myth, with television programs like “The Sopranos” and films like “Analyze This,” “Mickey Blue Eyes,” and “Good Fellas” which present gangsters exclusively as Italian American.

Over 15.7 million people in the United States identify themselves as Italian Americans. They constitute nearly six percent (6%) of the US population. Italian Americans are the nation’s fourth largest European ancestry group after the Germans, Irish and English. Italian Americans are the only European group whose population has increased since the 1990 census. In fact, the number of Americans claiming German, Irish, English and Polish descent decreased nearly 19 percent collectively–dropping from 128 million in 1990 to 108 million.

Many Americans of Italian descent are pleasantly surprised to discover that they are entitled to dual citizenship. There are several reasons other than sentimental ones, to consider applying for Italian citizenship. Italian nationals are automatically citizens of the European Union and may be entitled to benefi ts including work permits, health insurance and tax savings. However, not every Italian American qualifies for dual citizenship.

The general framework governing Italian citizenship is Law 91 of 5 February 1992, which reaffi rms the principle of jure sanguinis (continuity of blood), by which any children born of an Italian father or mother instantly inherit Italian citizenship. However, the inheritance of Italian citizenship through the maternal line is only possible for those born after January 1, 1948.

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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 12:04:40 ZULU