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Citizenship vs Race

Reader comment on item: Why the Japanese Internment Still Matters
in response to reader comment: No justification

Submitted by Harvey Jenkins (United States), May 6, 2011 at 05:09

This issue is very complex but you have several important facts wrong.

1) There were two separate and very different government operations to deal with enemy aliens during World War 2. Internment (run by the INS as soon as war was declared) and Relocation (created through EO 9066 and run by the Wartime Relocation Authority). This may seem like some trivial distinction but it is HUGE and important to understand the difference both legally and operationally. In this discussion, the two programs are often lumped together and it leads to huge factual errors and misperceptions.

2) Enemy aliens were Germans, Italians, Japanese and citizens of a handful of other smaller countries as part of the Axis alliance. Their citizens become "enemy aliens" under international and US law during times of war. This led to internment of Germans, Italians and Japanese starting on Dec 8th when the US entered states of war with their countries. [see Crystal City, Texas on youtube and wikipedia for some details]

3) Most Japanese citizens residing in the US at the time were either dual citizens or not citizens of the USA. However, many had minor (as in under 18) children. The US government faced a problem. If the parents were not citizens but a 2 year old is, do you separate a child from the parents? This even affected German Americans such as Arthur Jacobs who was interned at Crystal City with his parents and eventually deported to Germany despite the fact that he was born in the US. In the Japanese immigrant community on the west coast, this group of children outnumbered the parents at least 2 to 1 - again, separating minor US citizen children from their non citizen parents was difficult if not impossible.

4) Since both internment and relocation affected Germans, Italians, and Japanese, it could not have been based on "race" but instead both programs were based on citizenship. Besides, there is no legal definition of "Japanese" as a "race" neither is their a legal definition of "hyphenated" Americans.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_American_internment

If internment affected Germans and Italians and "German Americans" and "Italian Americans" in addition to Japanese citizens and "Japanese Americans", than it could not have been based on "race" - but instead was based on citizenship of a country at war with the US.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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