Today we remember that 78 years ago President Franklin D. Roosevelt, through executive order, paved the way for the mass incarceration of all individuals of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast. This was done in blatant violation of the United States Constitution and was upheld by the Supreme Court in a miscarriage of justice.
Unfortunately, today we see too many parallels to the Japanese American experience during World War II. President Trump is again using executive orders to ban as many Muslims from entering the country as possible under the guise of national security concerns. In a cruel twist of irony, the Supreme Court decision, granting the President the latitude to use claims of national security despite clear anti-Muslim sentiment, also repudiated the Korematsu decision for its obvious racism.
Modern injustices such as this underscore how important it is to recall what happened to Japanese Americans.Today as we remember our experience of incarceration tearing the fabric of our families and community, we simultaneously see the current destructive policies of family incarceration and child separation at our borders. We call on our government to take the path of humanity and to embrace those coming to our country seeking a better life for their children as many of our ancestors did before us. Japanese American children did not belong in concentration camps, and immigrant children today do not either.
We applaud the California State Assembly as it seeks to pass a resolution offering formal apology to the Japanese American community who were targeted and wronged by many of the state’s policies leading up to incarceration by the Federal government. While it is never too late to apologize, this offers the opportunity to look to the present. It is time for us all to examine our role in maintaining the structures that continue to oppress and discriminate.
On this Day of Remembrance, it is not enough to just remember, it is also a time for us to act and to make this country adhere to the ideals to which we aspire.