Feingold Legislation to Study the Treatment of European Americans and Refugees During World War II
Thousands of German Americans, Italian Americans, and Jewish Refugees Mistreated by United States During War

October 1, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) today introduced legislation to establish two fact-finding commissions to review the treatment by the U.S. government of German Americans, Italian Americans, and Jewish refugees during World War II. The Wartime Treatment Study Act is co-sponsored by Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), and Joe Lieberman (D-CT), and was also introduced in the House of Representatives today by Representative Robert Wexler (D-FL).

"We must honor and remember the millions of Americans who bravely served their country in World War II and the hundreds of thousands who sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom," Feingold said. "But we must also review the U.S. government's violation of civil liberties and its failure to protect refugees facing persecution during World War II."

Thousands of German Americans, Italian Americans and other European Americans were unfairly arrested, detained, interned or relocated by the U.S. government, some remaining in custody long after World War II had ended. Many European Americans were stripped of their personal property and travel rights. At our borders, Jewish refugees, seeking protection from Nazi persecution, were denied entry into the United States. Congress has previously reviewed the U.S. government's treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II through the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. There has been no independent review however, of the treatment of German Americans and Italian Americans and of Jewish refugees fleeing persecution and genocide.

"Many Americans are unaware that the two largest foreign-born groups in the United States at that time, German Americans and Italian Americans, were targeted and suffered many injustices by the United States government," Feingold said. "This legislation will help all Americans understand those injustices committed against German Americans, Italian Americans, European Latin Americans, and Jewish refugees, and complete a full accounting and review of this chapter in our nation's history."

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