S. 1354. A bill to establish commissions to review the facts and circumstances surrounding injustices suffered by European Americans, European Latin Americans, and Jewish refugees during World War II; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
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STATEMENT ON INTRODUCTION OF
THE WARTIME TREATMENT STUDY ACT
June 30, 2005
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, today I introduce the Wartime
Treatment Study Act. This bill would create two fact-finding commissions: one
commission to review the
I am very pleased that my distinguished colleagues, Senators GRASSLEY, KENNEDY, LIEBERMAN, CORZINE and WYDEN, have joined me as cosponsors of this important bill. I thank them for their support.
The victory of
But, as so many brave Americans fought against enemies in
Europe and the Pacific, the
Many Americans are aware of the fact that, during World
War II, under the authority of Executive Order 9066, our government forced more
than 100,000 ethnic Japanese from their homes into internment camps. Japanese
Americans were forced to leave their homes, their livelihoods, and their
communities and were held behind barbed wire and military guard by their own
government. Through the work of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and
Internment of Civilians, created by Congress in 1980, this shameful event finally
received the official acknowledgement and condemnation it deserved. Under the
Civil Liberties Act of 1988, people of Japanese ancestry who were subjected to
relocation or internment later received an apology and reparations on behalf of
the people of the
While I commend our government for finally recognizing and apologizing for the mistreatment of Japanese Americans during World War II, I believe that it is time that the government also acknowledge the mistreatment experienced by many German Americans, Italian Americans, and European Latin Americans, as well as Jewish refugees.
The Wartime Treatment Study Act would create two
independent, fact-finding commissions to review this unfortunate history, so
that Americans can understand why it happened and work to ensure that it never
happens again. One commission will review the treatment by the
I believe that most Americans are unaware that, as was the
case with Japanese Americans, approximately 11,000 ethnic Germans, 3,200 ethnic
Italians, and scores of Bulgarians, Hungarians, Romanians or other European
Americans living in
second commission created by this bill will review the treatment by the
I mentioned earlier, there has been a measure of justice for Japanese Americans
who were denied their liberty and property. It is now time for the
Up to this point, there has been no justice for the thousands of German Americans, Italian Americans, and other European Americans who were branded ``enemy aliens'' and then taken from their homes, subjected to curfews, limited in their travel, deprived of their personal property, and, in the worst cases, placed in internment camps.
has been no justice for Latin Americans of European descent who were shipped to
there has been no justice for the thousands of Jews, like those aboard the
German vessel the
Although the injustices to European Americans, European Latin Americans, and Jewish refugees occurred fifty years ago, it is never too late for Americans to learn from these tragedies. We should never allow this part of our Nation's history to repeat itself. And, while we should be proud of our Nation's triumph in World War II, we should not let that justifiable pride blind us to the treatment of some Americans by their own government.
I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the Wartime Treatment Study Act. It is time for a full accounting of this tragic chapter in our nation's history.
I ask that the full text of the Wartime Treatment Study Act be printed in the RECORD.
There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Wartime Treatment Study Act''.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress makes the following findings:
(1) During World War II, the
(2) Nazi Germany persecuted and engaged in genocide against Jews and certain
other groups. By the end of the war, 6,000,000 Jews had perished at the hands
of Nazi Germany. United States Government policies, however, restricted entry
(3) While we were at war, the
(4) The United States Government should conduct an independent review to assess fully and acknowledge these actions. Congress has previously reviewed the United States Government's wartime treatment of Japanese Americans through the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. An independent review of the treatment of German Americans and Italian Americans and of Jewish refugees fleeing persecution and genocide has not yet been undertaken.
(5) During World War II, the United States Government branded as ``enemy
aliens'' more than 600,000 Italian-born and 300,000 German-born
(6) During World War II, the United States Government arrested, interned or otherwise detained thousands of European Americans, some remaining in custody for years after cessation of World War II hostilities, and repatriated, exchanged, or deported European Americans, including American-born children, to hostile, war-torn European Axis nations, many to be exchanged for Americans held in those nations.
(7) Pursuant to a policy coordinated by the
(8) Millions of European Americans served in the armed forces and thousands
sacrificed their lives in defense of the
(9) The wartime policies of the United States Government were devastating to the Italian Americans and German American communities, individuals and their families. The detrimental effects are still being experienced.
(10) Prior to and during World War II, the United States restricted the entry of Jewish refugees who were fleeing persecution and sought safety in the United States. During the 1930's and 1940's, the quota system, immigration regulations, visa requirements, and the time required to process visa applications affected the number of Jewish refugees, particularly those from Germany and Austria, who could gain admittance to the United States.
(11) Time is of the essence for the establishment of commissions, because of the increasing danger of destruction and loss of relevant documents, the advanced age of potential witnesses and, most importantly, the advanced age of those affected by the United States Government's policies. Many who suffered have already passed away and will never know of this effort.
SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.
In this Act:
(1) DURING WORLD WAR II.--The term ``during World War II'' refers to the period between September 1, 1939, through December 31, 1948.
(2) EUROPEAN AMERICANS.--
(A) IN GENERAL.--The term ``European Americans'' refers to United States citizens and permanent resident aliens of European ancestry, including Italian Americans, German Americans, Hungarian Americans, Romanian Americans, and Bulgarian Americans.
(B) ITALIAN AMERICANS.--The term ``Italian Americans'' refers to
(C) GERMAN AMERICANS.--The term ``German Americans'' refers to
(3) EUROPEAN LATIN AMERICANS.--The term ``European Latin Americans'' refers to persons of European ancestry, including Italian or German ancestry, residing in a Latin American nation during World War II.
TITLE I--COMMISSION ON WARTIME TREATMENT OF EUROPEAN AMERICANS
SEC. 101. ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION ON WARTIME TREATMENT OF EUROPEAN AMERICANS.
(a) In General.--There is established the Commission on Wartime Treatment of European Americans (referred to in this title as the ``European American Commission'').
(b) Membership.--The European American Commission shall be composed of 7 members, who shall be appointed not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act as follows:
(1) Three members shall be appointed by the President.
(2) Two members shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, in consultation with the minority leader.
(3) Two members shall be appointed by the majority leader of the Senate, in consultation with the minority leader.
(c) Terms.--The term of office for members shall be for the life of the European American Commission. A vacancy in the European American Commission shall not affect its powers, and shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made.
(d) Representation.--The European American Commission shall include 2 members representing the interests of Italian Americans and 2 members representing the interests of German Americans.
(e) Meetings.--The President shall call the first meeting of the European American Commission not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
(f) Quorum.--Four members of the European American Commission shall constitute a quorum, but a lesser number may hold hearings.