Barbara L’Italien

I’d never heard of Barbara L’Italien, an American politician with the Democratic party, before today. She was accidentally invited onto a Fox “News” programme instead of a Democratic supporter of ICE, the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. With L’Italien being a staunch critic of ICE, the interview didn’t exactly go as the hosts had planned:

Of course, what interested me was her surname. You’d probably not be very surprised to learn that it means The Italian (in French). I’d never come across this name before, but I wasn’t surprised that it exists, and hearing it reminded me of how it’s quite common in Ireland for surnames to references nationalities (e.g. English, Welsh, French).

It’s not surprising in this case that L’Italien would be a surname in France, given that the two countries are neighbours, and hundreds of years ago it would’ve been noteworthy to be an Italian in France.

Most importantly, I thought her surname was an interesting reminder of how multi-cultural the United States has always been. Here was an American woman with a French name that means The Italian. A timely reminder that most modern citizens of the United States are descended from immigrants, something the agents of ICE should be reminded of on a daily basis.

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