COPOMIAO President Basil Russo, Potentially Dangerous Director Zach Baliva, Congressman Bill Pascrel and OSIA President Michael Polo meet on Capitol Hill at the documentary’s screening before the Italian American Congressional Caucus (Sept. 28, 2023).

Potentially Dangerous tells the story of how 600,000 Italians living in the U.S. during WWII were surveilled, stripped of their livelihoods and native language, and were forced to leave their homes; some were even sent to internment camps — all while one million of their sons were fighting and dying in Europe and the South Pacific to keep our nation safe and free.

Infamously, Joe DiMaggio’s father, a fisherman living in California, was forced to hand over his boat to the U.S. government.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, fearful of an uprising among immigrants within the U.S. during WWII, signed a presidential proclamation in 1941, deeming 600,000 Italians as “enemy aliens.”

The documentary was shown to members of the U.S. Congress by the Italian American Congressional Caucus on Thursday, September 28th. Basil M. Russo, who also serves as President of the Italian Sons & Daughters of America, attended the event to address the Congressional audience. Also in attendance was Zach Baliva, the creator and director of the film.


“The tragic irony of this situation is that while hundreds of thousands of Italian immigrants were being subjected to curfews, property confiscation, loss of their homes and jobs, and confinement in internment camps in the U.S., 1.2 million of their sons were fighting and dying overseas in World War II,” said Russo.

Russo, who also serves as National President of the Italian Sons and Daughters of America, will lead a national effort to obtain a formal apology from our government for the abusive treatment 600,000 Italians were subjected to by our government during WWII.

Potentially Dangerous was funded by the Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum, which was created in 2017 by the Russo family. To date, 48 filmmakers have received grants totaling approximately $400,000 to create films that depict the Italian American experience in a positive way. Several of these films have appeared in prominent film festivals in both the U.S. and Italy. Potentially Dangerous was the winning film in the 2021 Russo Brothers Film Forum competition.

“Enemy aliens” were forced to carry ID cards.

The Italian Sons and Daughters of America and AGBO (the Russo Brothers’ film studio), are the sponsors of the film forum.

The screening of the film coincides with the annual launch of Italian American Heritage Month. Established in 1989 by President George H. W. Bush, the executive order celebrates and honors Italian American leaders, saints, celebrities, and everyday folks who helped form a storied culture that has elevated our nation’s history.

Potentially Dangerous is currently airing on PBS. Check your local listings, and learn more at

Watch the trailer here: