Hirono Introduces Resolution Remembering Internment, Condemning Xenophobia

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) spoke before the U.S. Senate on Tuesday to gain support for a resolution she introduced commemorating the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and affirming that America must stand against xenophobic sentiments directed to members of Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities.

Sen. Mazie Hirono

Sen. Mazie Hirono

“The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II remains a dark time in our nation’s history,” said Hirono. “Yet today we hear echoes of the sentiments of 1942 directed toward members of the Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities … We cannot repeat the mistakes of our past … The diversity of our nation is what makes America strong.”

A coalition of civil rights organizations that have backed the measure includes Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the National Coalition for Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), Muslim Advocates, Sikh Coalition, and South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).

The resolution is co-sponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

The resolution reads, in part:

“Whereas on Dec. 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which led to — (1) increased prejudice and suspicion toward Japanese Americans; and (2) calls from civilians and public officials to remove Japanese Americans from the West Coast of the United States …

“On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 … which led to — (1) the exclusion of 120,000 Japanese Americans and legal resident aliens from the West Coast of the United States; and (2) the incarceration of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents of Japanese ancestry in incarceration camps during World War II …

“President Gerald Ford formally rescinded Executive Order 9066 in Presidential Proclamation 4417 … (which) (1) states that Japanese Americans were and are loyal people of the United States who have contributed to the well-being and security of the United States; (2) states that the issuance of Executive Order 9066 was a grave mistake in United States history; and (3) resolves that actions such as the actions authorized by Executive Order 9066 shall never happen again …

“In 1980, Congress established the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians to investigate the circumstances surrounding the issuance of Executive Order 9066 …

“In 1983, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians issued a report entitled ‘Personal Justice Denied’ in which the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians concluded that — (1) the promulgation of Executive Order 9066 was not justified by military necessity; and (2) the decision to issue Executive Order 9066 was shaped by race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership …

“On Aug. 10, 1988, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 … was enacted — (1) to apologize for ‘fundamental violations of the basic civil liberties and constitutional rights of these individuals of Japanese ancestry’; and (2) to establish the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, to ensure that ‘the events surrounding the exclusion, forced removal, and incarceration of civilians and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry will be remembered, and so that the causes and circumstances of this and similar events may be illuminated and understood’ …

“The terrorist attacks carried out in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, have led to heightened levels of suspicion and hate crimes, xenophobia, and bigotry directed toward the Arab, Middle Eastern, South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu American communities, including — (1) on Aug. 5, 2012, an attack on the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, which led to several injuries and the death of six Sikh Americans; and (2) on Feb. 10, 2015, the execution-style shooting of three Muslim American students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina …

“The terrorist attacks carried out in Paris, France, on Nov. 5, 2015, have led to renewed calls from public officials and figures to register Muslim Americans and bar millions from entering the United States based solely on the religion of those individuals, repeating the mistakes of 1942.

“Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Senate —

“(1) Recognizes the historical significance of Feb. 19, 1942, as the date on which President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 …which restricted the freedom of Japanese Americans;

“(2) Recognizes the historical significance of Feb. 19, 1976, as the date on which President Gerald Ford issued Presidential Proclamation 4417 … which formally terminated Executive Order 9066;

“(3) Supports the goals of the Japanese American community in recognizing a National Day of Remembrance to increase public awareness about the unjust measures taken to restrict the freedom of Japanese Americans during World War II;

“(4) Expresses the sense that the National Day of Remembrance is an opportunity — (A) to reflect on the importance of upholding justice and civil liberties for all people of the United States; and (B) to oppose hate, xenophobia, and bigotry;

“(5) Recognizes the positive contributions that people of the United States of every race, ethnicity, religion, and national origin have made to the United States;

“(6) Steadfastly confirms the dedication of the Senate to the rights and dignity of all people of the United States; and

“(7) Expresses the sense that policies that discriminate against any individual based on the actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion of that individual would be — (A) a repetition of the mistakes of Executive Order 9066; and (B) contrary to the values of the United States.”

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