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Relocation of Japanese During World War Ii

United States citizens have long and, for the greater part, properly been proud of their rights and liberties. Yet, the new country was less than a decade old when President John Adams in 1798 signed into law the four bills collectively known as the Alien and Sedition Acts that, at a minimum, infringed on their liberty and impeded their pathway to full citizenship. Three of these (the Naturalization Act, which lengthened the residency requirement for citizenship from five to fourteen years, the Alien Friends Act, which permitted the incarceration or deportation of those deemed dangerous to the country’s security, and the Sedition Act that criminalized the making of false statements critical of the government) were either repealed or allowed to lapse by 1802.

The fourth law, the Alien Enemy Act of 1798 that permits the President to imprison and deport “aliens’ – liberally defined to include American citizens whose originated  from a hostile country during wartime — is still on the books in a re-codified form as part of United States Code Title 50, War and National Defense. Cited as authority for Executive Order 9066, it also served as the basis for the World War II imprisonment of those deemed agents of Japan, Germany, and Italy (Presidential Proclamations 2525, 2526, and 2527 respectively, issued in the very immediate aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor).  Indeed, in 1948 the Supreme Court, ruling in Ludecke v. Watkins (335 U.S. 160), widened its applicability by allowing the detainment of “enemy aliens” beyond the duration of hostilities and until the signing of a treaty between the United States and the former adversary.

Meanwhile, the First World War resulted in the passage of two new laws infringing on the freedoms of speech and press guaranteed in the Bill of Rights’ First Amendment, the Espionage and Sedition Acts of 1917-1918.  The former focused on prohibiting individuals from verbally expressing or publishing statements that could impede the United States war efforts and in part continues to be a part of United States law.  The more controversial Sedition Act extended this curtailment of First Amendment freedoms to the uttering or writing of anything critical of the United States involvement in World War I.  Both Acts were upheld by the Supreme Court in the 1919 case of Schenck v. United States (249 U.S. 47) on the reasoning that such acts as openly opposing conscription during war can constitute a “clear and present danger” to the country’s wartime security.Relocation of Japanese During World War Ii.

Although the portions of the Espionage continue to be a part of United States law, the federal government repealed the more controversial Sedition Act in 1921. By then, however, federal authorities had convicted approximately a thousand individual under the Acts for inhibiting the war effort and/or criticizing the government and the Constitution in disloyal or profane fashion.

Nonetheless, the overwhelming consensus remains that Executive Order 9066, promulgated on February 9, 1942, and the subsequent dispersal of Japanese Americans from their West Coast homes to the relocation centers built by the military across the country constitutes the greatest incursion into the civil rights of United States residents in the country’s history.  Following shortly after a March 2nd Military order imposing a tight curfew on the movements of Japanese Americans living within forty miles of the coast, within four months Executive Order 9066 resulted in the coerced relocation of more than110,000, over sixty percent of whom were U.S. citizens.

To these numbers can be added those involving residents of German and Italian ancestry directly affected by post-Pearl Harbor security measures. In January 1942, the Department of Justice required both groups to register in post offices, be fingerprinted and photographed, and issued identification cards to be carried at all times. Mass relocation of these peoples, however, was precluded, however, given the hundreds of thousands of Italian and German descent falling into each category.  Hence, interment overwhelmingly involved German and Italian nationals.  In all, slightly more than 10,000 Germans and slightly less than 2000 Italians were detained at least temporarily as enemy aliens, with proportionately few housed in the Department of Justice’s relocation centers throughout the war.

Constitutional questions involving of the Federal Government’s actions in imprisoning residents for seditious utterances during the First World War I only reached the Supreme Court after the conclusion of that war.  By contrast, the Supreme Court heard several cases involving the detention of those of Japanese ancestry while World War II was still in progress. The most significant of these were Hirabayashi v. United States (320 U.S. 81) in 1943, which sustained the government’s right to impose a curfew law, and Korematsu v. United States (323 U.S. 214), which in 1944 upheld the forced relocation of those of Japanese ancestry. In both cases, the Supreme Court explicitly noted that distinctions based on race would normally be highly suspect. The Hirabayashi decision used the phrase “odious to a free people.” In both cases, however, a majority of Justices upheld the Government’s action, being unwilling “by availing ourselves of the calm perspective of hindsight – now to say that at the time these actions were unjustified.” (Korematsu)   Facilitating that conclusion, Justice Black wrote for the majority in Korematsu, was the fact that “five thousand American citizens of Japanese ancestry refused to swear unqualified allegiance to the United States and to renounce allegiance to the Japanese Emperor and several thousand evacuees requested repatriation to Japan.”Relocation of Japanese During World War Ii

Epilogue. Although neither the Federal Government nor a state government has ever apologized to German Americans for the policies targeting them during the Second World War, in 2010 the California legislature passed a resolution apologizing to its Italian community for their wartime treatment.  Nearly thirty years before a federal Commission on the Wartime Relocation and Interment of Civilians (1980-1983) had recommended that the Federal Government do the same for Japanese Americans, and pay reparations to those whose lives were disrupted by the “racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and failure of political leadership” that led to their interment. In 1988, President Reagan signed a Congressional bill doing both and thirty years later, in dismissing an argument raised by a dissenting justice in Trump, President of the United States, et al. v. Hawaii, et al., the Supreme Court took the opportunity to apologize as well.

As Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the majority, The dissent’s reference to Korematsu…affords this Court the opportunity to make express what is already obvious: Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and—to be clear—“has no place in law under the Constitution.” 323 U. S., at 248 (Jackson, J., dissenting).  .



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Executive Order No. 9066

The President

Executive Order

Authorizing the Secretary of War to Prescribe Military Areas

Whereas the successful prosecution of the war requires every possible protection against espionage and against sabotage to national-defense material, national-defense premises, and national-defense utilities as defined in Section 4, Act of April 20, 1918, 40 Stat. 533, as amended by the Act of November 30, 1940, 54 Stat. 1220, and the Act of August 21, 1941, 55 stat. 655 (U.S.C., Title 50, Sec. 104):

Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military Commanders whom he may from time to time designate, whenever he or any designated Commander deems such action necessary or desirable, to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion. The Secretary of War is hereby authorized to provide for residents of any such area who are excluded therefrom, such transportation, food, shelter and other accommodations as may be necessary, in the judgment of the Secretary of War  or the said Military Commander, and until other arrangements are made,  to accomplish the purposes of this order.  The designation of military areas in any region or locality shall supersede designations of prohibited and restricted areas by the Attorney General under the proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941, and shall supersede the responsibility and authority of the Attorney General under the said Proclamations in respect to such prohibited and restricted areas.

I hereby further authorize and direct the Secretary of War and the said Military Commanders to take such other steps as he or the appropriate Military Commander may deem advisable to enforce compliance with the restrictions applicable to each Military area hereinabove authorized to be designated, including the use of Federal troops and other Federal agencies, with authority to accept assistance of state and local agencies.

I further here by authorize and direct all Executive Departments, independent establishments and other Federal Agencies, to assist the Secretary of War or the said Military commanders in carrying out this Executive Order, including the furnishing of medical aid, hospitalization, food, clothing, transportation, se of land, shelter, and other supplies, equipment, utilities, facilities, and services.

This order shall not be construed as modifying or limiting in any way the authority heretofore granted under Executive Order No. 8972, dated December 12, 1941, not shall it be construed as limiting or modifying the duty and responsibility of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with respect to the investigation of alleged acts of sabotage or the duty and responsibility of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice under the Proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941, prescribing regulations for the conduct and control of alien enemies, except as such duty and responsibility is superseded by the designation of military areas hereunder.Relocation of Japanese During World War Ii

Franklin D. Roosevelt

The White House, January 18, 1942