Representative Swalwell’s Calls to Expel Russian Students Fails to Learn from History

On February 27th, Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) went on CNN and suggested that Russian students should be expelled from the country as a potential pressure point against Russia. Swalwell said, “Frankly, I think closing their embassy in the United States, kicking every Russian student out of the United States, those should all be on the table.”


The JACL would like to remind the Congressman that his district encompasses an area from where many Japanese Americans were forcibly removed during WWII, leading to the disruption and end of college careers. The disruption of promising college careers was one of many traumas inflicted upon incarcerated Japanese Americans that would have lifelong implications. Only in the last few years have universities begun to take responsibility for the role they played in discriminating against Japanese American students during the war whether through expulsion.


Recent years have seen similar attacks and calls against Chinese students and scientists. Actions against students, targeted only on the basis of their nationality, is discriminatory. Where there is reasonable suspicion of nefarious activity, law enforcement should of course take action, but national origin should not serve as the basis for making these decisions.


JACL supports the Neighbors Not Enemies Act to repeal the Alien Enemies Act of 1798 that gives the President the power to detain, relocate, or deport immigrants from hostile countries in a time of war. This law has been invoked to justify the mass incarceration of Japanese and Japanese Americans during WWII and could be used to justify Congressman Swalwell’s misguided calls for expulsion of Russian students.


Despite multiple efforts to engage, Representative Swalwell has refused JACL’s request to meet regarding his statement.