The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) vehemently objects to the recent executive orders related to immigration. Whether they concern building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, threatening to increase deportations by the granting of additional powers to immigration enforcement officials and the targeting of sanctuary cities, or banning refugees and immigrants from entering the country, we stand with our organizational partners in rejecting these xenophobic, fear-mongering tactics.
Last week, the White House issued executive orders titled “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” and “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” This is not the first time we have seen security used as a rationale to discriminate against specific communities. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 that prescribed military areas from which individuals could be removed. During World War II, the experience of Japanese Americans went beyond being forced from their homes and being detained without due process. Japanese Americans were vilified and targeted because of their race. Our country abandoned them with some being subjected to deportation. Their abandonment by our government left many with a psychological trauma that for some would last a lifetime.
During World War II, racism and wartime fears caused political leaders to enforce discriminatory policies they knew to be unwarranted and unnecessary. A narrative of historical facts has thoroughly repudiated the governmental actions that flowed from Executive Order 9066. Although the threat of terrorism is real, we must learn from our history and not allow our fears to overwhelm our values.
The United States has always served as a sanctuary for those fleeing oppression and provided opportunities to anyone seeking a better life. JACL continues to support the resettlement of refugees and the rights of immigrants. We are deeply troubled by policies born out of race-based slogans; policies that are mean-spirited and excessive in the treatment of immigrant families; policies that fail to honor the values of our diverse nation. As with Executive Order 9066, these recent measures do nothing to enhance America’s standing as an enduring symbol of democracy.
Contact Bill Yoshino, JACL Interim Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeffrey Moy, JACL VP Public Affairs, email@example.com