The Japanese American Service Committee (JASC) strongly condemns the recent signing of an executive order by President Trump that indefinitely halted the ability of Syrian refugees to enter the U.S., and which temporarily suspended the entry of people from seven-Muslim majority countries.
Having seen the news of this “Muslim Ban” by President Trump, members of the Japanese American community are reminded of another infamous presidential action, Executive Order 9066, signed 75 years ago by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the onset of the U.S.’s involvement in World War II, which authorized the wholesale incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans in the Japanese American Concentration Camps. Two-thirds of those incarcerated were American citizens, with the rest being Japanese nationals ineligible to naturalize, due to racially discriminatory naturalization laws in existence at the time.
“As members of the Japanese American community, who had historically experienced unjust incarceration under the guise of protecting national security, we cannot allow similar forms of discriminatory policies to be enacted today,” stated Michael Takada, CEO of the JASC.
For Japanese Americans and Asian Americans in general, these kinds of discriminatory restrictions hearken back to an era in which the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the 1924 Immigration Act were specifically designed to target particular ethnic and racial groups for exclusion.
“In this challenging time, we must continue to remember the societal impact that such measures can produce, namely in the normalization of discriminatory sentiments towards a particular group of people, in this case those of the Muslim faith,” stated Takada.
The JASC, having been founded in 1946 with the original purpose of helping Japanese Americans to resettle in Chicago after their release from the camps, knows full well the terrible consequences that can arise from misguided and poorly conceived governmental actions in a time of fear and prejudice, and stands steadfastly in reaffirming our opposition to any attempts to profile whole communities on the basis of religion, national origin, or race. We call upon all communities to remember the lessons of the past and to join in struggle against the forces of bigotry, prejudice, and fear.
The JASC engages people of all ages to experience Japanese American history and culture and to improve their wellbeing through innovative, high quality programs and services tailored to the multicultural community.