Some Thoughts on the 77th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066

February 19, 2019 marks the 77th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066, authorizing the forced removal and unjust incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans in ten American concentration camps, and other confinement sites, during World War II, one of the worst violations of civil rights in our nation’s history, and most certainly, one of its darkest chapters.

Although the phrase, Never again, to anyone, anywhere!, seems to be “too little, too late,” especially given the fact that this terrible history is repeating itself right now, with immigrant children being separated from their families and incarcerated in what are, for all intents and purposes, concentration camps, with little to no hope of ever being reunited with their parents, the sentiment behind it remains on point. Indeed, we must intensify our efforts to stop these heinous actions by the Trump Administration and then, fight to prevent such actions from ever happening again. To that end, everyone must learn about Japanese American Incarceration, as the lessons that must be learned from it are still very much needed by our society, as a whole.

On this important anniversary, we urge you to share this on social media, and anywhere else you deem appropriate.

Gann Matsuda, who writes from Culver City, California, is the Manzanar Committee’s Director, Communications and Social Media/Web Editor.

The views expressed in this story are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of the Manzanar Committee.

LEAD PHOTO: The cemetery monument at Manzanar National Historic Site. Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee.

Creative Commons License The Manzanar Committee’s Official web site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, distribute and/or transmit any story or audio content published on this site under the terms of this license, but only if proper attribution is indicated. The full name of the author and a link back to the original article on this site are required. Photographs, graphic images, and other content not specified are subject to additional restrictions. Additional information is available at: Manzanar Committee Official web site – Licensing and Copyright Information.

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9 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on the 77th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066

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  1. The shame of the WWII internments revolves around one word – citizens. Our federal government, led by FDR, did this to our fellow citizens.

    Which is also why it has no real relevance to the current problems with aliens – not citizens – trying to illegally enter the country.

    Citizenship really does (or should) matter. And that is why this sordid story stands out, all these years later. That is why it is so important to protect our constitutional rights.

  2. It especially grieves me that some JAs keep making the comparison as somehow equivalent between people detained trying to enter this country illegally versus those who were American citizens or legal aliens being forcibly evicted from their homes and imprisoned by their own government simply because of their ethnicity. The Issei and Nisei did NOTHING illegal and their Constitutional rights were blatantly violated. As JAs, we should understand this better than anyone else. To claim these very different situations are equivalent cheapens the injustices suffered by our own family members who were interned.

    1. We do understand it. But, and no disrespect intended, you do not appear to be among those who do. After all, you’re justifying separating children from families and incarcerating them in what amount to concentration camps because of their immigration status. If you think it’s justified to do that for any reason, you really don’t understand the issues involved here.

      1. Gann Matsuda – I think you are mistakenly inferring that those who object to linking these stories as being equivalent must approve of current practices involving aliens trying to enter the country illegally.

        There are plenty of reasons to object to some of our current policies and practices on immigration matters, but the WWII internments of citizens was and is in a separate category. Pointing out this distinction doesn’t imply that i or others must condone or approve of any current policies.

        1. Your objection to linking it makes it quite clear that, with all due respect, you lack the depth of knowledge and understanding about Japanese American Incarceration, to understand the connections. Denying such connections exist is strong evidence of that. If you do understand it and have the depth of knowledge, as you claim, one can only conclude that you are attempting to justify incarcerating children in what are, essentially, concentration camps.

  3. For those arguing against the rights of non-citizens, it is true that 2/3 of internees were citizens. They were US-born Nisei. Their citizenship status did nothing to protect them from incarceration. So you could persuasively argue that their Constitutional Rights as citizens were violated by internment. That’s definitely true. But would you then say that their Issei parents “deserved” incarceration because they weren’t citizens? Would it matter that the Issei lived at a time when racist laws prevented their ability to naturalize?

    That said, the distinction between citizens and noncitizens is unfair, given the egregious violations occurring on our Southern border. Human rights should be extended to all peoples, regardless of their citizenship status. Separating children from families as an immigration deterrent (an overt policy of the Trump Administration) is a clear violation of human rights. Many of these children will never be reunited with their families because no records have been kept by the Trump administration. It is inhumane to treat children, and families, this way.

    Some of these migrant families are fleeing countries wrecked, in part, by US political and military destabilization. This would make them refugees rather than immigrants. Refugees and other stateless peoples are guaranteed additional protections under international laws determined and upheld by the UN.

    I respect the Manzanar Committee for taking a stand on this issue.

    1. I’d like to add that there are currently 1,224+ recorded complaints of sexual assault against migrants in US immigration detention facilities. This mass travesty made headline news last summer and it continues to be discussed.

      Anyone who argues that (im)migrants deserve the degradations of sexual assault–for any reason–should ask themselves why they’re complicit to a mindset that views certain people as inherently more disposable and violable.

      We should all take a stand when others are defenselessly detained and raped, even if they’re detained and raped under the guise of national security.

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