In 1942, Japanese American children, along with their families, were taken away and put in horse stalls at Santa Anita racetrack and other inhospitable places. We were transported thousands of miles away to concentration camps and held behind barbed wire in the deserts and swamps of America.
In the atmosphere of racism and war hysteria, there were just a few people who supported and stood by us.
Last year, under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, more than 2,600 children were snatched from their parents at the border as they sought asylum under U.S. laws. In Customs and Border Protection (CPB) camps in Texas, children were kept in crowded, unsanitary conditions with little or no health care.
Wearing the same clothes they had on when they crossed the border, the children were not allowed to bathe for weeks. They had no soap, toothbrushes or toothpaste. Children slept on concrete floors in cages and lights were kept on throughout the night. Seven- and eight-year-old children were forced to take care of toddlers.
Seven children have died while in federal immigration custody just in the last year.
We, members of Nikkei Progressives (NP, a grassroots community organization in Los Angeles), like many others, recognize the striking similarity between 1942 and today. And we are outraged by what our government is doing to migrant families – parents who are only trying to protect their children by fleeing the widespread violence and grinding poverty in their home countries.
As we witness history repeating itself, we believe we should stand up for others and say, “Never Again Is Now!” We want the children and families seeking asylum to know there are people who care about them and are working to provide material support to help them.
This is why we are organizing “We Got Your Back . . . Pack” — a benefit concert with the goal of raising funds to purchase backpacks, children’s items and other supplies while also helping with bond payments, so people in detention can be released until their scheduled immigration court dates. Funds will also go towards supporting a shelter for asylum seekers in Coachella (San Bernardino Diocese) and transportation costs for those leaving the shelter.
The concert will take place on Sept. 21 at the Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo and will feature the Quetzal Quartet (members of the legendary Grammy-winning band Quetzal), the innovative, high-energy TaikoProject, and the soulful Aloe Blacc, a Grammy-nominated musician, singer and producer. They will be joined by 14-year-old musical prodigy Sandino, the lyrical duo of Cesar & Xochi, international artivist Maya Jupiter, and East L.A. punk pioneer Alice Bag.
Over 35 organizations have become sponsors of this concert — among them Japanese American Bar Association, Little Tokyo Service Center and Japanese American Citizens League-Pacific Southwest/Venice-WLA/San Fernando chapters — because, as one sponsor said, “Japanese Americans see the connection between what happened 77 years ago and what is happening now. Detention…family separation…being targeted as the enemy…racist attacks.”
Please join us in standing up for the rights of migrants and asylum seekers and show your support by sponsoring and attending our concert on Sept. 21.
For more information about the concert and to purchase tickets, please visit the JACCC website: jaccc.org
For more information about Nikkei Progressives and its immigrant support and other activities, please visit: https://www.nikkeiprogressives.org/
Opinions expressed in Vox Populi are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.