February 19, 2018 marks the 76th 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:
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:
“As we commemorate this year’s Day of Remembrance, we are reminded of the prejudice and failure of political leadership during World War II that led to the unjust incarceration of over 120,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry. These were American citizens who were rounded up like cattle, stripped of their civil liberties, and incarcerated in isolated camps simply because of their race.
“As we reflect on this dark and painful chapter of our nation’s history, let us also recommit ourselves to speaking out against intolerance and injustice whenever it occurs. This is especially true now, more than ever, with President Trump’s xenophobic actions targeting immigrants, refugees, and Muslims.
“These hateful policies are fueled by the same hysteria and prejudice that led to Japanese American incarceration during World War II. But we cannot allow history to repeat itself. In Congress, my CAPAC colleagues and I will fight to safeguard the civil liberties of all Americans and ensure that what happened to Japanese Americans during World War II never happens again.”
Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34):
“Today, the nation solemnly remembers the innocent people who were wrongfully incarcerated because of their Japanese heritage. This unconscionable practice denied a group of Americans their civil rights and liberties, leaving behind a dark stain on our nation’s history that forever changed the landscape of Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo and our country. This day serves as a stark reminder that when fear dictates policy, lawmakers have an undeniable duty to safeguard the freedoms and civil rights of all Americans.”
Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17):
“Due to hysteria, prejudice, and fear, almost 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent were incarcerated during WWII. Seventy-six years later, we remember the families and individuals devastated by Executive Order 9066, and vow to never make the same mistake again. Today I join my colleagues for a moral vision of American leadership that confronts prejudice, xenophobia, and bigotry in all forms.”
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13):
“Today marks the 76th anniversary of President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, one of the darkest days in American history. Driven by fear and xenophobia, our government abandoned our constitutional principles and wrongfully imprisoned over 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans. I join my East Bay community and my country as we reflect on this regretful policy and recommit to fight prejudice in all its forms.
“This Day of Remembrance is a reminder of the poisonous impact of prejudice on our democracy. Sadly, we are seeing echoes of this overt discrimination to this very day in the Trump Administration’s attacks on immigrants and refugees. We are a nation of immigrants, a nation founded on the principle that all are welcome. As we commemorate this anniversary, I hope everyone will recall the stories of the Japanese-Americans who were wrongfully interned and fight for policies that uplift human dignity.”
Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06):
“The Day of Remembrance is a reminder that we must not take anything for granted. The unjust incarceration of Japanese American citizens was a dark period in our nation’s history that dishonored our founding principles. We must never let history repeat itself. It is up to all of us to remain active in the defense of the justice, liberty, and freedom that each citizen is afforded in this country.”
Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41):
“During World War II, my family was forced into incarceration camps along with 120,000 other persons of Japanese ancestry. They were denied due process and stripped of their freedom for nothing more than looking like the enemy. We must remember that painful part of our history, reflect on the pain it caused so many Americans, and commit ourselves to preventing this type of injustice from ever happening again.
“That is why I introduced the Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Act of 2017 along with Senators Tammy Duckworth and Mazie Hirono. This bill would finally repudiate the legal basis that justified the Japanese American incarceration and prohibit the unconstitutional detention of individuals based solely on race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation. On this Day of Remembrance, we must honor all those impacted by the Japanese American imprisonment by ensuring that this injustice never happens again.”
Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52):
“Seventy-six years ago, Executive Order 9066 authorized Japanese Internment during World War II—one of the darkest times in our history. We allowed fear to overtake our values as a nation at the expense of 120,000 friends and neighbors who lost their homes, jobs, and the basic respect that all Americans deserve. Today, we are confronted with divisive rhetoric and policies towards immigrants, but we can never let this injustice happen again. In the face of intolerance, we must stand united and fight to uphold the values of our great nation.”
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40):
“On this Day of Remembrance for Japanese Incarceration, we reflect on the signing of Executive Order 9066, which led to the detention of over 120,000 Americans based solely on their Japanese ancestry. As we remember this horrific act of bigotry and injustice, we must recommit to always opposing prejudice and oppression in all their forms. Let us never tire in our fight to secure and safeguard civil liberties and social justice for all.”
Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09):
“The Day of Remembrance of the Internment of Japanese-Americans, serves as a reminder of the oppression and bigotry rooted in the formation of Japanese internment camps during WWII. 120,000 Japanese Americans suffered, and were robbed of their autonomy and freedom. We must remain mindful of forgetting the dark, painful parts of American history. In doing so, we remain committed to preserving the civil rights and creating social progress to ensure equal protections for all.”
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently Chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.