Inouye wants internment study
The WWII relocation of Latin Americans concerns the senator
Sen. Daniel Inouye says the story of U.S. involvement in the forced relocation, internment and deportation of Latin Americans of Japanese descent during and after World War II needs to be explored.
Inouye, D-Hawaii, introduced legislation to create a commission to determine how the actions of the United States affected the Japanese Latin Americans, and to recommend appropriate remedies.
Inouye said in a news release issued by his Washington office that he introduced the bill last week to mark Feb. 19, 1942, the day President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the internment of about 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry.
"Far less known -- and indeed, I myself did not initially know -- is the story of Latin Americans of Japanese descent taken from their homes in Latin America, stripped of their passports, brought to the United States and interned in camps our government had set up," Inouye said.
"Between the years 1941 and 1945, our government, with the help of Latin American officials, arbitrarily arrested persons of Japanese descent from streets, homes and workplaces and brought approximately 2,300 undocumented persons to campsites in the United States, where they were held under armed watch, then used for prisoner exchange (with Japan)," he said.
"Those used in an exchange were sent to Japan, a foreign country that many had never set foot in," he said.
By the end of the war, those not used for prisoner exchange were subject to deportation proceedings, but some had to remain in the United States because their country of origin refused them re-entry because they had no passport, Inouye said.
"When I first learned of the wartime experiences of Japanese Latin Americans, it seemed unfathomable," he said, "but it happened. It is a part of our national history, and it is a part of the living histories of the many families whose lives are forever tied to internment camps in our country."
The Japanese Americans interned during World War II received a formal apology from President Ronald Reagan.