CAPAC Members Observe Day of Remembrance for Japanese Internment

Feb 19, 2020 Issues: Civil Rights

Washington, D.C. – Today marks the 78th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the incarceration of over 120,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry during World War II. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements in observance of the Day of Remembrance:

CAPAC Leadership

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:

“It has been 78 years since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War II. Unfortunately, the same xenophobia and hysteria that led to this shameful chapter in our nation’s history continues to manifest in many of the Trump administration’s policies today. That is why now, more than ever, we must speak up in the face of injustice and ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of our past. 

“Over three decades ago, Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 to formally apologize and provide redress to Japanese Americans who were racially targeted and stripped of their civil liberties, and I am glad that my home state of California is passing legislation this week to likewise acknowledge its historical mistreatment of Japanese Americans. As we observe this Day of Remembrance, let us recommit ourselves to safeguarding the civil rights of all Americans so that what happened to Japanese Americans will never happen again.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), CAPAC First Vice Chair:  

“The Day of Remembrance marks the anniversary of President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, a shameful stain on our history built on war hysteria, xenophobia, and political expediency after the attack on Pearl Harbor. On February 19th, 1942, 120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were American citizens, were displaced and incarcerated in internment camps termed, “War Relocation Authority Centers. Families were forced to leave their property behind and relocate causing turmoil and grief simply because of their ancestry. Since then, we have vowed to remember this moment and let it be a call to action against policies built on fear of the other. The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 was the U.S. Government’s redress and apology. However, the Trump Administration’s Muslim travel ban and the inhumane treatment of individuals and families we see at the southern border today, echoes the racism and hysteria. It is impossible to quantify the losses the Japanese American community incurred from this mass incarceration, or the toll this trauma took on Japanese American families’ mental and physical health. We must not repeat our past mistakes.”

Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), CAPAC Second Vice Chair:  

“On this Day of Remembrance, we reflect on the pain and suffering Japanese Americans endured in internment during World War II. We must not forget the injustices perpetrated on more than 120,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry, including my parents and grandparents, or be indifferent to the tactics used to violate the civil liberties of these innocent Americans. Fear and discrimination, combined with a failure of political leadership, led to this injustice and families still bear the scars and pain incurred during this dark time in our history.

“Nearly 80 years later, I'm glad that my home state of California is passing a resolution to formally apologize to the Japanese American community for the role it played in perpetrating these atrocities. This apology is long overdue, but necessary. Now, we must continue fighting against the Trump Administration’s xenophobic agenda and speak out against the fearmongering that targets innocent communities. It’s up to us to prevent history from repeating itself, and this starts by Congress passing the Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act – legislation I introduced with Senator Hirono to prevent the unjust imprisonment of people on the basis of race, religion, nationality, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity or disability. We must do everything we can to safeguard our liberties.”

CAPAC Senators

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI):

“The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was a discriminatory and unconstitutional policy that our nation should never repeat. However, the President is ignoring history and is abusing his executive authority to target people based on ethnicity, national origin, and religion. On this day of remembrance, we must stand together and fight for the civil rights and fair treatment of all people.”

CAPAC Executive Board

Congressman Gil Cisneros (CA-39):

“Today marks the 78th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which led to the wrongful incarceration of over 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans. The Day of Remembrance serves as a stark reminder of one of the darkest chapters in our nation’s history. We cannot allow this injustice to repeat itself. As a country, it’s on all of us to confront prejudice, discrimination, and xenophobia wherever they may exist. Today and every day, we must stand united to fight for and protect the civil rights and liberties of all Americans”

Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17):

“Thousands of Americans were unjustly incarcerated at the hands of our own government during the Second World War. Today, we remember the innocent families who withstood an unconscionable violation of their civil liberties. We can’t let fear dictate policy. I urge every member of Congress to stand up for an America that prioritizes tolerance and confronts prejudice. Every person in our country should be free from bigotry.”

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13):

“On the Day of Remembrance for Japanese Internment, we reflect on one of the darkest chapters in American history. 78 years ago today, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 to wrongfully imprison over 120,000 Japanese Americans. I join my diverse East Bay community in observing this day of remembrance and pledging to fight back against policies based in prejudice and xenophobia. As we remember those who suffered in internment camps, I am saddened and disturbed by President Trump’s continued actions targeting immigrants and refugees, from family separation to his xenophobic Muslim ban. I urge people across the country to stand against racial prejudice in every form and proclaim in one voice: Never Again.”

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06):

“Seventy-eight years ago, Executive Order 9066 incarcerated my family and over 120,000 other Americans in an act of fear – simply because of our ethnic heritage. The internment of Japanese Americans was a horrible act of bigotry, racism and injustice that went against the founding principles of our country. America will always be a nation of immigrants and a country of diverse people, ideas, and communities, so we must continue to honor those Japanese Americans who were stripped of their constitutional rights and imprisoned. We must continue to tell their stories.

“Through our profound sense of togetherness, we will continue bending the moral arc of this country by lifting our voices and fighting so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. Our country’s strength is its diversity, and Japanese Americans, as well as all immigrant communities, will continue to make that American tapestry that much more vibrant.”

CAPAC Associate Members

Congresswoman Susie Lee (NV-03):

“In 1942, the federal government entered one of the darkest and most shameful periods in our history, incarcerating over 120,000 Japanese Americans solely because of their nationality. The Japanese internment campaign was derived from a policy driven by fear and discrimination, rather than compassion and reason. Nearly 80 years later, fear of all kinds still seeps into our society, and we need to be as vigilant as ever in calling out bigotry and injustice wherever we see it. As we commemorate this solemn day, we must remember those 120,000 Americans and the pain they experienced and remind ourselves never to let fear and prejudice guide our policy-making.”

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09):

“On this Day of Remembrance for Japanese Incarceration, we remember Executive Order 9066 and reflect upon the inhumane internment camps incarcerating our fellow Americans. 120,000 Japanese Americans were detained, stripped of their rights and autonomy, and robbed of their freedom solely because of their ancestry. Now more than ever, we must be mindful and learn from the painful chapters of American history, so we are not doomed to repeat it. We must confront policies rooted in xenophobia, refuse to give into fearmongering, and renew our commitment to protecting basic rights that all Americans deserve.”