CAPAC Chair Condemns Colorado Lawmaker’s Comments Defending Japanese American Internment

Mar 23, 2017 Issues: Civil Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Colorado State Representative Phil Covarrubias defended the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II while debating a Colorado state bill that would protect state residents from President Trump’s executive orders targeting immigrants, refugees, and Muslims. Covarrubias stated, “we keep hearing about how things went down with the Japanese people. For anyone that has never been in combat, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and all of that was going on, there’s no time to ask questions and find out who is a citizen and who’s not.” He doubled down on his justification of Japanese American internment when he later said, “What happened prior to [the internment] that kicked all this off? I think we were attacked at Pearl Harbor.” Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) released the following statement in response to these comments:

“It’s outrageous that we have to keep reiterating that the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II was wrong. History doesn’t repeat itself because we forget. It repeats itself because apologists like Rep. Covarrubias attempt to convince us these atrocious actions were justified. Well they weren’t. Due to racism and wartime hysteria, over 120,000 innocent individuals of Japanese ancestry were rounded up like cattle and forced to live behind barbed wire fences where they were treated like prisoners simply because of their ethnicity. Their citizenship meant nothing and their civil liberties were violated in ways so unconscionable that the federal government later apologized for it.

“To have an elected official justify this shameful chapter in our nation’s history in order to promote xenophobic policies today is unacceptable. Japanese American incarceration was a violation of our nation’s values and should never be emulated again.”


The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.