From the Congressional Record [Pages H778 through H784]
SUPPORTING GOALS OF CERTAIN COMMUNITIES IN RECOGNIZING NATIONAL DAY OF REMEMBRANCE -- (House of Representatives - March 03, 2004)
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 56) supporting the goals of the Japanese American, German American, and Italian American communities in recognizing a National Day of Remembrance to increase public awareness of the events surrounding the restriction, exclusion, and internment of individuals and families during World War II.
The Clerk read as follows:
H. Res. 56
Whereas President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, which authorized the exclusion of 120,000 Japanese Americans and legal resident aliens from the west coast of the United States and the internment of United States citizens and legal permanent residents of Japanese ancestry in internment camps during World War II;
Whereas the freedom of Italian Americans and German Americans was also restricted during World War II by measures that branded them enemy aliens and included required identification cards, travel restrictions, seizure of personal property, and internment;
Whereas President Gerald Ford formally rescinded Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1976, in his speech, ``An American Promise'';
Whereas Congress adopted legislation which was signed by President Jimmy Carter on July 31, 1980, establishing the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians to investigate the claim that the incarceration of Japanese Americans and legal resident aliens during World War II was justified by military necessity;
Whereas the Commission held 20 days of hearings and heard from over 750 witnesses on this matter and published its findings in a report entitled ``Personal Justice Denied'';
Whereas the conclusion of the Commission was that the promulgation of Executive Order 9066 was not justified by military necessity, and that the decision to issue the order was shaped by ``race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership'';
Whereas Congress enacted the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, in which it apologized on behalf of the Nation for ``fundamental violations of the basic civil liberties and constitutional rights of these individuals of Japanese ancestry'';
Whereas President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 into law on August 10, 1988, proclaiming that day to be a ``great day for America'';
Whereas the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 established the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, the purpose of which is ``to sponsor research and public educational activities and to publish and distribute the hearings, findings, and recommendations of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians so that the events surrounding the exclusion, forced removal, and internment 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'';
Whereas Congress adopted the Wartime Violation of Italian Americans Civil Liberties Act, which was signed by President Bill Clinton on November 7, 2000, which included provisions which resulted in a report containing detailed information on the types of violations that occurred, as well as lists of individuals of Italian ancestry that were arrested, detained, and interned;
Whereas the Japanese American community recognizes a National Day of Remembrance on February 19th of each year to educate the public about the lessons learned from the internment to ensure that it never happens again; and
Whereas the Day of Remembrance provides an opportunity for all people to reflect on the importance of justice and civil liberties during times of uncertainty and emergency: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) recognizes the historical significance of February 19, 1942, the date Executive Order 9066 was signed by President Roosevelt, restricting the freedom of Japanese Americans, German Americans, and Italian Americans, and legal resident aliens through required identification cards, travel restrictions, seizure of personal property, and internment; and
(2) supports the goals of the Japanese American, German American, and Italian American communities in recognizing a National Day of Remembrance to increase public awareness of these events.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Shaw). Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) and the gentleman from New York (Mr. Nadler) each will control 20 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner).
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on House Resolution 56 currently under consideration.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Wisconsin?
There was no objection.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, today I rise in favor of House Resolution 56. On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. Shortly afterwards, citizens of Japanese ancestry residing in the United States were prohibited from living, working or traveling on the West Coast of the United States. Executive Order 9066 ultimately led to the detention of 120,000 Japanese Americans and residents, most of whom did not see freedom until the closing days of World War II. Executive Order 9066 also resulted in restrictions upon the civil liberties of Italian and German Americans residing in the United States, including government-imposed curfews, detentions, prohibitions on items considered to be contraband by military authorities, and seizures of personal property.
President Ford formally rescinded Executive Order 9066 in 1976. In his proclamation repealing this executive order, President Ford said:
``I call upon the American people to affirm with me this American promise, that we have learned from the tragedy of that long-ago experience forever to treasure liberty and justice for each individual American, and resolve that this kind of action shall never again be repeated.''
Twelve years later, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 to formally acknowledge and apologize for ``fundamental violations of the basic civil liberties and constitutional rights of individuals of Japanese ancestry.'' When signing the legislation, President Reagan said:
``Here we admit a wrong. Here we affirm our commitment as a Nation to equal justice under the law.''
In the year 2000, President Clinton signed the Wartime Violation of Italian Americans Civil Liberties Act, which formally acknowledged civil liberties violations against Italian Americans committed during World War II. In November of 2001, the Committee on the Judiciary received a comprehensive report prepared by the Department of Justice detailing civil liberties violations committed against persons of Italian American ancestry during this period.
The Japanese American community presently recognizes a National Day of Remembrance on February 19 of each year to educate the public about the internment. House Resolution 56 reaffirms the importance of this day. The resolution also supports the goals of the Japanese American, German American and Italian American communities in recognizing a National Day of Remembrance to increase public awareness of the events surrounding this difficult period of our Nation's history.
I urge my colleagues to support this resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 2 minutes.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this resolution. The World War II internment of American citizens of Japanese, German and Italian ancestry for no reason other than their heritage is a disgraceful blot on the history of this Nation and on our commitment to freedom and equality. Sometimes, in times of panic and insecurity, we have forgotten what is best and most admired about our Nation and we have done things which in retrospect and with cooler heads we have come to realize were both unnecessary and unjust. This unfortunate history includes the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus during
the Civil War, the Espionage Act of 1917, the Smith Act of 1940, the Japanese, German and Italian internments, the McCarthy depredations of the early Cold War years, the COINTELPRO operations of the FBI, and some of what is going on today.
We are regrettably going through another period of fear and insecurity due to the very real threat of terrorism. We must not give in to fear and we must not repeat the sin of trampling civil liberties in ways that purport to, but do not even, add to our own security. But I fear we are yet again doing just that.
There is no greater way to honor those many loyal Americans who suffered injustices during World War II than to rededicate ourselves to fighting for the principles that this history teaches, to remembering this history, to passing this resolution but to try to avoid repeating this history as I fear we are doing in some of the things that are going on in this time of insecurity today.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from California (Mr. Cox)
Mr. COX. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for bringing this important resolution to the floor. I rise in strong support of House Resolution 56, which calls for a National Day of Remembrance to increase public awareness of the Japanese Americans, German Americans and Italian Americans whose civil rights were violated during World War II. Suffering by the Japanese-American community was particularly acute.
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed his infamous Executive Order 9066. It ordered the imprisonment of 120,000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast of the United States. For most of the war, these loyal Americans, who had done nothing to deserve such treatment, were forced to live under armed guard in isolated camps hundreds of miles from home. The Japanese Americans subject to Franklin Roosevelt's executive order had as little as 4 days to prepare for being rounded up. They were forced to sell or lease their property often at ruinous losses. They were deprived of income during their imprisonment. Many lost their businesses, their livelihoods and their life savings. So many hardworking Americans were rounded up into camps that the economies of entire States, California, Oregon and Washington, suffered severely.
FDR's wholesale denial of Americans' constitutional rights shamed America but all Americans can be proud of the Japanese Americans he imprisoned. Despite their shameful treatment by the Roosevelt administration, they never wavered in their patriotism and their support for the United States and for the war effort. In fact, the most decorated combat unit of World War II, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, was composed of Japanese Americans, many of whom themselves had been internees in these camps.
Mr. Speaker, Franklin Roosevelt's executive order was never formally rescinded until President Gerald Ford took action. On February 19, 1976, he rescinded Executive Order 9066 with a proclamation entitled ``An American Promise.'' By President Ford's proclamation, America finally recognized the sacrifices made by Japanese Americans for the United States and called upon all Americans to resolve that such a tragedy would never happen again.
And then on August 10, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 by which the United States Government at long last apologized for, quote, the fundamental violations of the basic civil liberties and constitutional rights of persons of Japanese ancestry. One of my predecessors as policy chairman here in the House, then Representative Dick Cheney, now Vice President DICK CHENEY, cosponsored the bill. My predecessor from Orange County, California, Representative Robert Badham, was one of its strongest advocates. The Civil Liberties Act also established the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund to preserve in the national consciousness of our country the memory of the internment. At the signing ceremony, President Reagan quoted his own words honoring Japanese-American soldiers and all American soldiers who fought in World War II. Here is what President Reagan said:
``Blood that has soaked into the sands of a beach is all of one color. America stands unique in the world, the only country not founded on race but on a way, an ideal. Not in spite of but because of our polyglot background, we have had all the strength in the world. That is the American way.''
Six decades later, as President Reagan would say, that is still the American way, and we do great honor to the Congress, to the country, to Japanese Americans and to people who come to America from all parts of the world by passing this resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I urge a ``yes'' vote on House Resolution 56.
Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from California (Mr. Honda), the sponsor of the resolution.
Mr. HONDA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of House Resolution 56, a resolution I introduced last year on behalf of the Japanese-, Italian- and German-American communities to establish a National Day of Remembrance for the restriction, exclusion and internment of individuals and families during World War II. I thank the House leadership as well as the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner), the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers) and the gentleman from New York (Mr. Nadler) for their leadership in steering this measure to the floor today. While the resolution addresses events from our past, it does more than honor victims. It reminds us and our constituents that past national mistakes must not be repeated, even during times of great uncertainty.
To achieve these goals, we must first recognize the magnitude and severity of our Nation's injustices during World War II. In 1942, the U.S. Government rounded up and incarcerated approximately 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent, primarily from the West Coast, tearing families apart and forcing these hardworking people to sell their businesses and their personal properties for pennies on the dollar. Many literally lost the fruits of a lifetime of work due to Executive Order 9066 signed by President Roosevelt on February 19, 1942.
I know firsthand the pain inflicted on those families incarcerated because I spent part of my childhood at Amache internment camp in southeast Colorado. My family was uprooted from our home and community and sent hundreds of miles away from our homes and communities for no other reason than our ancestry. There can be no confusion. The decision by America's political leaders in 1942 to intern Japanese Americans was signed, sealed and delivered not out of concern for national security or for the safety and security of Japanese Americans. This executive order was based on neither reason nor evidence but on fear and panic. The U.S. Government acknowledged as much in 1982 under Carter when the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians concluded that military necessity did not justify the exclusion and detention of these groups. Instead, the government's decision-making was driven by race prejudice, war hysteria and the failure of political leadership.
As the commission's report points out, ``A grave personal injustice was done to the American citizens and resident aliens of Japanese ancestry who, without individual review or any probative evidence against them, were excluded, removed and detained by the United States during World War II.''
In 1988, Congress finally redressed these wrongs by formally apologizing and providing compensation to those unjustly relocated during World War II. It is a true testament to our Nation's values and democratic process that our Nation has been able to look back and admit errors from its past. I can think of no greater evidence to demonstrate why the United States, with all its flaws, is still looked to worldwide as the nation with the strongest and fairest form of government.
But it is not enough to admit our wrong and compensate those persecuted. It is equally important that today we endeavor to educate the public about the internment of Americans to avert the execution of federally sanctioned discrimination and maltreatment in the future. It is critically important more than ever to speak up
against possible unjust policies that may come before this body. It is critical that we educate all Americans of the Japanese-American experience during World War II as well as the experience of other groups like the Japanese Latin Americans.
These people were extricated from Latin America, brought over here, and had their documents taken away from them, thus becoming individuals without a country to be used as pawns in exchange for POWs in the Pacific Theater. As this resolution does, we must also remember the experiences of the German and Italian Americans who were also victimized.
Having recognized this, many members of those communities have suddenly realized that they were wrong, that they were not criminals; and because of the recognition, this awful burden of guilt has been lifted from their shoulders and from the communities.
As a teacher, I feel this point is especially timely and pertinent. In today's war against terrorism, we must be especially cognizant of the adage that those who do not learn from their past mistakes are doomed to repeat them.
Since World War II, our civil liberties have not been as much at risk as they are today. Even while we prosecute the war against terrorism, we must protect all innocent Americans from prejudice and xenophobia.
Today, Mr. Speaker, a person with my face, my background, and being a third-generation American of Japanese descent, standing in the Halls of Congress under the dome of the greatest capitol of this Nation, of this world, I have learned one lesson. And bringing together all of our experiences from our various communities during that time of trauma, the lesson that was learned, and it is an American lesson, is that the Constitution is never tested in times of tranquility. Rather, our Constitution is sorely tested in times of national tension, trauma, tragedy, and terrorism; and that we as Americans, in order to address our future, must internalize the principles of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
So I would like to conclude my remarks by honoring all those Americans who suffered on the homefront during World War II, and I hope this resolution will provide additional healing for those of our Nation. It takes enormous maturity for our Nation to admit its wrongs.
Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lofgren).
Ms. LOFGREN. Mr. Speaker, as has been mentioned, on February of 1942, then-President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order which authorized the Secretary of War to define military areas in which ``the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions'' are deemed ``necessary'' or ``desirable.''
By the spring of 1942, California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona were designated as military areas. And in May, Japanese Americans were ordered to ``close their affairs promptly and make their own arrangements for disposal of personal and real property.''
Official government fliers were posted around California instructing families to report to 12 assembly centers including the Tanforan Racetrack for San Francisco Japanese Americans to the Santa Anita Racetrack for Japanese Americans in the Santa Clara Valley. They could only bring the bare necessities, leaving behind homes, their lives, and most personal belongings. Santa Clara and San Francisco Japanese Americans were forced to live in horse stables for as long as 6 months until a permanent camp was built for them; 110,000 Japanese Americans were evacuated from their homes and incarcerated throughout the duration of the war.
By the fall of 1942, most of the Santa Clara Valley Japanese American internees were transported to a camp far away from home, the Heart Mountain Internment Camp Wyoming; and the San Francisco internees were sent to various camps, some as far away as Utah.
The horror did not end there. At the end of the war when Japanese Americans were finally released and went home, they found that they had no shelter, no food, money, much less a job. Some returned to find homes looted and destroyed. In my district, the San Jose Buddhist Church offered what it could, shelter and hot meals for most families. And a good piece of news, in Santa Clara County, the family of Bob Peckham, later to become Federal District Court Judge Bob Peckham, had taken title to the property of their Japanese American neighbors, and they were able to preserve much of the property and return it at the end of the internment.
All of this happened before I was born, but I remember hearing about it well before it hit the history books because my mother was a young woman in 1942, and she was building airplanes for Douglas Aircraft. My dad was in the Army. And I remember her telling me going past the Tanforan Racetrack and how guilty and ashamed she was and how helpless she felt. She knew that her neighbors had been wrongly locked up in these horse stables. She knew what her government had done was wrong; but as a young girl, she really did not know what to do and how to change that. She was a lifelong Democrat. She cast her first Presidential vote for FDR, but she never agreed with what he did to her neighbors.
What has happened since then? We have adopted legislation to rescind. We have the Civil Liberties Act. We have apologies. And that is important to my neighbors and my parents' neighbors who were incarcerated people like Ed Kawazoe and Jimi Yamaichi and Ted and Raiko and certainly the gentleman from California (Mr. Honda) and Norm Mineta and others; but this resolution is also important because it allows all of the Americans, not just those whose rights were violated but those who were on the outside, to reflect and to understand that an apology can be given, a country can improve, and we will never allow such a thing to happen again.
Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pascrell).
Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from New York for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the gentleman from California's (Mr. Honda) resolution and thank the members of the Committee on the Judiciary for bringing it to the floor.
At sometime or another, we have all heard the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller. We know he was commenting on an unspeakable time when throughout Europe the Nazis were rounding up those they did not want in their model society. But do his words ring true for the United States as well?
He said, ``First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.''
Under the Roosevelt-signed Executive Order 9066, American citizens of Japanese descent and Japanese residents of the United States were prohibited from living, working, or traveling on the west coast of the United States. It sounds almost foreign to us in America. EO 9066 ultimately led to the detention of 120,000 Japanese Americans and residents, most of whom did not see freedom until the closing days of World War II. That executive order also resulted in restrictions upon the civil liberties of Italian Americans and German Americans residing in the United States during World War II, including government-imposed curfews, prohibition on items considered to be contraband by military authorities, and seizures of personal property.
In the Korematsu case that challenged Japanese internment camps, even our United States Supreme Court failed our right to freedom, despite those words ``Equal Justice Under Law'' engraved on the facade.
Thankfully, over the past 62 years, this order has been revoked and the Federal Government has tried to make amends. We owe a debt of gratitude to our Greatest Generation in protecting our freedom and democracy abroad; however, we cannot forget that in some respects democracy failed us at home in 1942. The freedom we fought for was not shared by many Americans during that time.
Today's resolution reaffirms the importance of the National Day of Remembrance on February 19 to educate the public about the internment. But let this resolution also remind us to never repeat the mistakes of the past. We must stand up for freedom for all Americans, regardless of skin color, ethnicity, or religion. It is vital now not only because it is right and the human thing to do, but for self-interest as well.
Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the distinguished gentlewoman from Guam (Ms. Bordallo).
Ms. BORDALLO. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from New York (Mr. Nadler) for yielding me this time, and I am pleased to join my colleagues in support of House Resolution 56, which seeks to increase awareness and further public understanding of the mistreatment of American citizens during World War II.
I want to thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Honda) for his compassionate leadership on these issues and in particular for his sponsorship of House Resolution 56.
In the aftermath of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, allowing for thousands of Japanese Americans and Japanese residents, primarily from the west coast, to be removed from their homes, interned, and prohibited from returning until December of 1944.
In addition, Mr. Speaker, many Italian Americans and German Americans were expelled from designated areas under the U.S. Government's Individual Exclusion Program and were subject to arbitrary arrest.
The actions of our government during this period was and remains a source of great pain. The internment of the Japanese Americans, German Americans, and Italian Americans was a grave injustice of their civil rights.
There are lessons to be learned from this experience, and these lessons cannot be learned without discussing and understanding the circumstances surrounding the enactment of Executive Order 9066. We must be cognizant of the fragile nature of our civil rights which have been won on the battlefield and in the Halls of Congress; and we must always be mindful of the threats to our freedom and security; and, likewise, we must be mindful of how our own perceptions of our fellow Americans and our own prejudices affect our freedom.
It is now more important than ever because of the many issues that have arisen concerning security in the aftermath of September 11. As we wage the war on terrorism, the need for awareness and education is especially important. We must ensure that we have an understanding of who among us is the threat, not based on race or color or religion but based on facts that will withstand the scrutiny of our history. As we fight for freedom and security, let us not cast aside our own humanity.
Mr. Speaker, as difficult as it is, we must come to terms with our national mistakes just as we celebrate our national achievements. We must acknowledge our misgivings in the past if we are to strengthen our ability to avoid mistakes in the future. As President Ford said in 1976 when he formally rescinded Executive Order 9066, learning from our mistakes is not pleasant; but we must do so if we want to avoid repeating them.
Supporting the goals of the Japanese American, German American, and Italian American communities in recognizing a National Day of Remembrance will help us learn the lessons, understand the historical significance of these actions, and honor the sacrifice.
Mr. Speaker, I am in support of House Resolution 56.
Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee).
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished gentleman for yielding me this time.
It is with a humble spirit the recognition that we have come this far. We have not yet done and completed our journey.
I rise to support H. Res. 56, supporting the goals of the Japanese American, German American, and Italian American communities in recognizing a National Day of Remembrance to increase public awareness of the events surrounding the restriction, exclusion, and internment of individuals and families during World War II. I thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Honda) for his persistence in cleaning the slate.
My emphasis is to suggest that no one can feel their pain. We cannot in any way speak to the pain that German Americans and Japanese Americans, Italian Americans felt as their young men were on the front lines in Europe fighting on behalf of our freedom.
Yet their families at home were being mistreated and discriminated against, eliminated from jobs, abused and maybe somewhat violently treated. We know the Japanese Americans were interned. We know the German Americans were accused, and the Italian Americans as well.
This resolution is long overdue. I stand enthusiastically to support it so we as Americans can stand united in freedom without discrimination and with affectionate respect for the heroes in the Japanese American family, the Italian American family and the German American family.
Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Hawaii.
(Mr. CASE asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. CASE. Mr. Speaker, I also rise in very strong support of this resolution, and commend my colleague, the gentleman from California (Mr. Honda), for introducing it.
I rise as the representative of one of the two districts in our country that contains the largest number of Japanese Americans in our entire country. Some 20 percent of my constituents descended from the people that were directly impacted by the events of the Second World War and themselves impacted, the other district being the First Congressional District of Hawaii.
But in 1941 as the war broke out, 38 percent of Hawaii was composed of Americans of Japanese ancestry; 38 percent of people from Japan whose origins were in Japan, who had lived and worked successfully in Hawaii for almost a century at that point. By the end of the war, about 1,500 of them had been interned, an unconscionable figure, but nothing like what happened proportionately to the population of Japanese Americans on the mainland.
And there were some heroes to be recognized even today. So as we remember today what our country did to those citizens of our country and those of German and Italian descent, we also have to remember there were heroes then, people not from those racial groups, who stood up and were counted.
Robert Shivers, the former Director of the FBI's Honolulu office, who arrived in 1939 and took it upon himself to understand Japanese Americans in Hawaii, he had the power to say who would and would not be interned, and he recognized that most, if not all, of the Japanese American citizens of Honolulu and Hawaii were not to be interned. He was a hero. He remains a hero to my constituency today.
Dr. Charles Hemenway, former President of the U.H. Board of Regents, who took the time as well to work with Agent Shivers to get beyond the hysteria of the war and into the facts, who did have to be interned as a legitimate risk, but who was simply not a risk to their country; Colonel Kendall Fielder, former head of G-2 intelligence operations for the Army in the Pacific, decisions that he made on behalf of our military, for which he took an incredible amount of heat at the time from his national superiors, were vindicated after the war.
These were people that stood up and counted at the time, and as we remember what we did, we need to remember who helped them at that time. We also need to remember simply that our institutions are what prevent this from happening again.
Mr. Speaker, I commend this resolution, and support it fully.
Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished gentleman from California (Mr. Becerra).
Mr. BECERRA. Mr. Speaker, let me begin by thanking the gentleman from Wisconsin (Chairman Sensenbrenner), the gentleman from New York (Mr. Nadler) and certainly the gentleman from California (Mr. Honda) for their work in bringing this resolution to the floor.
H. Res. 56 deserves the support not just of the Members of this House, but
every single American who believes in democracy and freedom. We must remember, because the final chapter on those events back during World War II has not yet closed. That chapter has yet to be fully written, and before we are able to say we can turn the last page and put that book up on the shelf we have to make sure that we remember that there still are Japanese Americans as a result of technicalities who have not received any redress from the 1988 Civil Liberties Act.
We still have many communities, the German American community, the Italian American community, that have not yet had a chance to have their contributions to this country fully appreciated. So I think we have to all come together to agree that it was time for this resolution to come before us and to pass.
I also believe that at some point soon this Congress will be benevolent and the American people will understand that there are Japanese Latin Americans who deserve to be fully recognized and be conveyed some kind of apology, along with redress, to make sure all those who suffered have an opportunity to have redress fully fulfilled.
I thank the gentleman for yielding me time, and I appreciate the resolution that has come before us this evening.
Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
Mr. Speaker, over 60 years ago, at a time of panic and insecurity, this country committed a great wrong against people of Japanese, Italian and German background. Several years ago, the United States apologized for this, voted monetary compensation, and today we are passing a resolution supporting the goal of recognizing a day of national remembrance to increase public awareness of these events.
It is right and fitting that we should do this, and we should pass this resolution. I hope and I pray that as we increase public awareness of these events, we will learn from it, so that we do not repeat the same kind of actions as we have done in the past at times of insecurity and panic.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
Mr. Speaker, all of those who have spoken during this debate have pointed out very clearly that this resolution is a good resolution and is a necessary resolution. I think that probably the key part of this resolution is that it gives Congressional recognition to the remembrances that occur on February 19 of each year, because we should not forget about the egregious error that President Roosevelt committed against the civil liberties of the Japanese Americans when he signed the executive order that resulted in their internment.
The only way we will not forget is by having a remembrance that occurs, so that from one generation to the next people will see that the United States of America made a bad mistake.
This resolution will come and go and maybe it will be forgotten and maybe it will not be forgotten, but the annual remembrances on February 19 will make sure that the violation of civil liberties will not be forgotten, and that is the preventive to make sure that this never happens again.
Mr. Speaker, I urge adoption of the resolution.
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this bill, H. Res. 56, which came before the Committee on the Judiciary in January for markup. I supported this bill at that time as well.
It recognizes the historical significance of February 19, 1942, the day that President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 to restrict the freedom of Japanese Americans, and supports efforts of the Japanese, German, and Italian American communities to increase public awareness of these events by way of a National Day of Remembrance. Every year, this day is recognized by the Japanese American community to educate the public about the internment and to prevent such restrictions of civil liberties from happening again.
Our colleague Mr. HONDA is to be commended for his work in drafting this important legislation, and I am pleased that it has 70 co-sponsors, 67 of whom are from this side of the aisle.
During World War II, President Roosevelt used his executive authority to authorize the exclusion of 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese legal permanent residents from the United States and their internment in camps on the grounds of national security and military necessity. The freedoms of Italian and German Americans were also restricted during this war. These individuals were classified as enemy aliens and were required to carry identifications cards. Their property was seized, their travel was limited, and they were also interned in camps.
Fortunately, President Ford rescinded Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1976. In 1980, Congress established a Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians that investigated the internment and restriction of civil liberties under Executive Order 9066. The Commission found that the Order was not justified by military necessity but resulted from ``race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.'' In 1988, Congress enacted the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 apologizing to people of Japanese ancestry for the denial of their civil liberties and for the violations perpetrated against them by the U.S. The Wartime Violation of Italian Americans Civil Liberties Act, which passed in 2000, chronicled violations of the rights of Italian Americans that occurred during that time.
H. Res. 56 had added significance in light of the Bush Administration's expensive detention of Arab and Muslim Americans and resident in the week of 9/11. The Bush Administration consistently uses ``national security'' and ``war powers'' to violate the civil liberties of citizens and deport, question, and harass immigrants.
Today, a similar situation is occurring with respect to Haiti and Iraq. In Haiti, hundreds of asylum-seeker are being denied due process in their asylum petition hearings. These people are being denied their civil liberties and the right to live. They, in many cases, are summarily turned back to the shores of Haiti where they will likely suffer or die. In Iraq, under the name of ``national security'' and ``war powers,'' this Administration has led us into a war and subsequent occupation that has cost us numerous lives and high costs. H. Res. 56 sets a precedent of recognizing that the notion of ``national security'' and the ``war powers'' need to be utilized with more foresight, respect, and adherence to the principles of international as well as domestic laws.
For the above reasons, Mr. Speaker, I support this legislation.
Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 56 which seeks to recognize a National Day of Remembrance regarding the treatment of Japanese, German and Italian Americans during World War II.
Many Americans are not aware that on February 19th, 1942 Executive Order 9066 was signed by President Roosevelt authorizing restrictions and internment of ``enemy aliens.'' While the intent of this order was to monitor and detain people from countries the United States was fighting in World War II, the result was that thousands of patriotic Americans of foreign descent had their civil liberties revoked--even though they had done nothing wrong.
I am troubled by the fact that the internment of Italian Americans is little known even today. For these reasons I authored H.R. 2442 in the 106th Congress, which called for the United States to acknowledge this terrible chapter in our history and required the Department of Justice to study and report back to Congress on the extent of the Italian American Internment, known in the Italian American Community as ``Una Storia Segreta'' (the Secret Story).
Mr. Speaker, the Justice Department report confirmed much of what I learned in the years leading up to the enactment of H.R. 2442. Thousands of loyal Italian American patriots, mothers and fathers of U.S. troops, even women and children were suspected of being dangerous and subversive. With this new enemy alien status, Italians were subjected to strict curfew regulations, forced to carry photo ID's, and could not travel further than a 5 mile radius from their homes without prior approval. Furthermore, many Italian fishermen were forbidden from using their boats in prohibited zones. Since fishing was the only means of income for many families, households were torn apart or completely relocated as alternative sources of income were sought.
It is difficult to believe that over 10,000 Italians deemed enemy aliens were forcibly evacuated from their homes and over 52,000 were subject to strict curfew regulations. Ironically, over 500,000 Italians were serving in the United States Armed Forces fighting to protect the liberties of all Americans, while many of their family members had their basic freedoms revoked.
When we first started researching the Italian American Internment we had vague accounts of mostly anonymous Italians who were subjected to these civil liberties abuses. However, throughout the process we came in contact with many Italians who experienced the internment ordeal first hand. Dominic DiMaggio testified at a Judiciary Committee hearing about his dismay when he returned home from the war to find that his mother and father were enemy aliens. Doris Pinza, wife of international opera star Ezio Pinza, also testified at
the hearing about her husband who was only weeks away from obtaining U.S. citizenship when he was classified as an enemy alien and detained at Ellis Island. It still saddens me to think that Ellis Island, the world renowned symbol of freedom and democracy, was used as a holding cell for Italians. There is even documented evidence of Italians being interned in camps at Missoula, Montana.
Mr. Speaker, we must ensure that these terrible events will never be perpetrated again. We must safeguard the individual rights of all Americans from arbitrary persecution or no American will ever be secure. While we cannot erase the mistakes of the past, we must learn from them in order to ensure that we never subject anyone to the same injustices. But most important of all, we can never forget what happened during this time or we run the risk of repeating this awful chapter in our history. That is why H. Res. 56 is important to this Congress and all Americans. A National Day of Remembrance will ensure that the treatment of Japanese, German, and Italian Americans will always be remembered, and hopefully, we will never allow the civil liberties of Americans to be jeopardized again.
Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of House Resolution 56 recognizing the significance of February 19, 1942, the day that President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans and residents of Japanese descent and the deprivation of rights of German Americans and Italian Americans.
The Resolution supports the goals of the Japanese American, German American, and Italian American communities in recognizing a national day of remembrance to increase public awareness of the restrictions and internment of individuals during World War II.
I am proud to join my colleague Representative MIKE HONDA, who spent his early childhood in an internment camp, in cosponsoring this Resolution. I appreciate his leadership and diligence in bringing this Resolution.
The West Coast of our country was particularly affected by the forced relocations and unjust internment of thousands of American citizens and residents of Japanese descent during World War II. The failure of our political and judicial system to prevent this injustice still reverberates strongly across our nation.
Only belatedly did this Nation acknowledge and apologize for the bigotry and injustice spurred by Executive Order 9066. The ``Civil Liberties Act of 1988'' was enacted to formally acknowledge and apologize for fundamental violations of the basic civil liberties and constitutional rights of these individuals of Japanese ancestry.'' In 2000, President Clinton signed the ``Wartime Violation of Italian Americans Civil Liberties Act,'' which formally acknowledged civil liberties violations against Italian Americans.
It is imperative that our generation and future generations recall the deprivations suffered by the Japanese American, German American and Italian American communities during World War II. The date of February 19, 1942 must serve as a constant reminder that we must never again violate individual rights on the basis of national origin.
The Resolution reaffirms the importance of February 19th, which is recognized as a National Day of Remembrance each year by the Japanese American community. The Japanese American community and its supporters across the Nation have worked hard to educate the public about the internment.
The lessons of that dark chapter in our history are especially relevant today. As we protect and defend the American people against terrorism, we must protect and defend the Constitution and the civil liberties that define our democracy.
I commend the House of Representatives for considering this Resolution. I urge its passage.
Mr. MATSUI. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 56 and commend the Japanese American, German American and Italian American communities for their efforts to commemorate and promote a National Day of Remembrance. Although this is a regrettable time in American history, we cannot let this period be forgotten. It is only by increasing public awareness of the events surrounding the restriction, exclusion and internment of individuals and families during World War II that we can guard against such future violations.
Sixty-two years ago, the signing of Executive Order 9066 led to the forced internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. They were held without cause and without recourse. These individuals and families suffered needlessly because of rampant fear, prejudice and a lack of political leadership.
These pervasive feelings also imposed limits on the freedoms of German Americans and Italian Americans. The government restricted their travel and seized their property, and the public branded them as the enemy.
In 1988, the Federal government acknowledged the tragic injustice of the internment. Due in large part to the efforts of the Japanese American community, the government issued a formal apology and offered redress to internees. We can never compensate for what was taken away from these families and individuals. But we can honor their struggle and their legacy by understanding the events that lead to their internment.
It takes a strong and confident Nation to look introspectively at its own actions and admit that it made a mistake. Today, it is accepted that the World War II Japanese internment was a grievous error. Not only did these actions disrupt lives and communities, it has left a stain on America's history of freedom, tolerance, and liberty for all of its citizens.
Marking the anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 provides a time for political leaders to reflect on the lessons of the past and on the importance of principled leadership in the future. We must never again sacrifice the core values of our democracy and Constitution, especially in times of uncertainty and emergency.
The National Day of Remembrance honors those who suffered and reminds us to strive toward a better society where such prejudice does not exist. We all have a role in ensuring that such injustices do not happen again.
Once again, I want to join my colleagues in recognizing the very important work the Japanese American, German American and Italian American communities are doing in raising awareness of the National Day of Remembrance. I also want to commend Representative HONDA for his efforts to bring this resolution to the floor. To those personally affected by these events, I especially want to thank you for sharing your stories and for your efforts in educating the American public. Your leadership inspires us all.
Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my support for House Resolution 56 which was introduced by Mr. Honda of California last month. This resolution would create a National Day of Remembrance in honor of the Japanese-Americans, Italian-Americans, and German-Americans who suffered injustices during the Second World War.
Before I begin, I would like to congratulate Mr. Honda on his new role as the Chairman of the Caucus of Asian Pacific American Caucus. He has long been a champion of the concerns of Asian Pacific Americans and will undoubtedly serve them well in his new role.
In February of 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 that paved the way for discriminatory action against American citizens of Japanese, German, and Italian descent. Across the West Coast, Japanese-Americans were evacuated en masse from their homes and relocated to internment camps. German-Americans and Italian-Americans were often the object of discriminatory policies, as well.
The residents in my home State of Connecticut were as deeply affected as the rest of the country by these political actions. A detention center for those considered to be `alien enemies' was established in a community center in Hartford. Japanese, Italian, and German resident aliens were required to carry their immigration papers at all times and their movement was restricted. In addition, many of the Japanese-Americans who were interned on the West Coast moved to the East Coast, including Connecticut, after their release. The suffering that these communities endured has remained with them and must be addressed.
The apology offered by this government in 1988 is not sufficient. We must not allow the lessons learned from this chapter of our history to be lost, regardless of how painful they may be. It is this very pain that makes them so valuable. We cannot forget the suffering endured by our own citizens. Establishing a National Day of Remembrance is important in ensuring that this does not happen.
The National Day of Remembrance is not simply a matter of honoring the past. The treatment of Japanese-Americans, Italian-Americans, and German-Americans during World War II has significant implications for us today. This country is in a war against terror. Our relations with other nations should not make way for injustice and discrimination toward our own people. The National Day of Remembrance would serve as a reminder that questioning the loyalty of our citizens without just cause is a grave mistake.
I would like to commend Mr. Honda on his introduction of this resolution and his dedication to this important cause. The Japanese-American, Italian-American, and German-American people have expressed the desire that the experiences of their communities during World War II be remembered to serve as a lesson for future generations. This resolution is a valuable reminder that it is the work of this country to preserve the civil liberties of its people.
It is often said that history tends to repeat itself. However, it does not have to. We have an opportunity to take action to prevent a similar threat to the civil liberties of innocent citizens as took place during World War II from occurring again. I hope that this is something
that members on both sides of the aisle will be able to agree to do and I would therefore like to urge all of my colleagues to support this important resolution.
Mr. WU. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 56, a resolution recognizing the historical significance of February 19, 1942 and supporting the Japanese American, German American, and Italian American communities in recognizing a National Day of Remembrance.
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, under which authority approximately 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were forcibly removed from their homes and incarcerated during World War II. The last of the detainees were released in October 1946, 4 1/2 years after the signing of the Executive Order, and over a year after the end of the war. But this dark chapter in our American history did not end there.
Upon release from the internment camps, Japanese Americans could not return to the lives they had led before the tragic Executive Order. During the period of internment, they lost their homes, their businesses, their livelihoods.
Thirty years passed before the Executive Order was formally rescinded in 1976. And it took the government an additional 12 years before reparations and a Presidential apology were issued in 1988.
Mr. Speaker, it took over 40 years for the government to acknowledge the magnitude of the mistake it had made in interning Japanese Americans. We must now vow to remember the unspeakable injustice perpetrated upon our fellow Americans by our American government so that it may not be repeated. I thank Mr. HONDA for introducing this important resolution which reminds us not to forget the mistakes of our past.
We support the Japanese American, German American, and Italian American communities in recognizing a National Day of Remembrance. This dark period in our history not only devastated the lives of Japanese Americans, but also restricted the freedoms of Italian Americans and German Americans during World War II.
Mr. Speaker, we must recognize that measures such as Executive Order 9066, which was found to be shaped by ``race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership,'' violate not only the rights of those they target, but in fact, attack the basic freedoms of all Americans guaranteed by the Constitution. Let the lessons of the past teach us to be wary of the actions we as a Congress take hastily, based on fear. Let us remember.
Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to join my good friend MIKE HONDA as a cosponsor of H. Res. 56, a bill that commemorates the suffering of the Japanese-American, German-American and Italian-American communities during World War II by recognizing February 19 as a National Day of Remembrance. It is my sincere hope and belief that establishing a National Day of Remembrance will increase public awareness about the loss of civil liberties that were suffered by individuals as well as entire families in this country during World War II.
I recently had the privilege to speak to the San Mateo Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens Leagues (JACL), whose mission is to secure and maintain the civil rights of Americans of Japanese ancestry and others who have been victimized by injustice. Several of the members attending the talk were, in fact, children of parents who had been interned in camps, and some had even been interned themselves. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the JACL, and also Former Representative Norm Mineta, whose leadership has been instrumental to ensuring that the American public is educated about this tragedy.
As we are all well aware, following the issuance of Presidential Executive Order No. 9066 on February 19, 1942, tens of thousands of Americans were evicted from their homes, rounded up, and sent to internment camps across the western United states. In San Francisco, this program began in earnest on April 1, 1942, when all persons of Japanese ancestry--whether they were American citizens or not--were notified to report for ``relocation.'' In my own Congressional district, 7,800 people were assembled against their will at the San Bruno Tanforan Racetrack, which was recently portrayed in the movie ``Sea Biscuit.''
Mr. Speaker, I submit that it is not only in retrospect that the internment of the Japanese appears absurd and unacceptable. As early as 1946 Harold Ickes, President Roosevelt's own secretary of the Interior, characterized the mass detention of Japanese Americans as a ``mass hysteria over the Japanese,'' he noted, ``we gave the fancy name of `relocation centers' to these dust bowls, but they were concentration camps.'' Mr. Speaker, ultimately the way we treated Japanese Americans was inexcusable. Moreover, the enormous human suffering and violation of civil liberties that this policy caused vastly outweighed any purported national security benefit derived from the government's internment policy.
Mr. Speaker, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II is one of the most ignominious and repugnant acts that our Nation has committed. Americans of Japanese descent, some of whom had been in our nation for generations, were herded into internment camps, and denied the basic human rights afforded to all other Americans. Although we have taken the first steps toward recognizing the insidiousness of the internment policy, apologies and reparations are not enough by themselves. Indeed, we ought to be reminded on a regular basis of the dangers of fanaticism. Today, as we face a new set of challenges to civil liberties in our Nation, it is imperative that we work together to preserve our basic freedoms. After the September 11th tragedy, Arab, South Asian, Muslim and Sikh Americans faced real threats to their safety. Many immigrant communities were concerned that America's legitimate anger towards the foreign terrorist who masterminded and carried-out September 11th would be turned towards them. We must constantly be vigilant that his does not occur, and establishing a national day of remembrance is a laudable step toward this necessary goal.
As the only Member of this body to have survived the Holocaust I bring a unique perspective to today's debate. As an oft quoted saying goes, ``Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it,'' and this legislation is the first step to ensuring that all Americans learn from the mistakes of our Nation's past mistreatment of Japanese-, German-, and Italian-Americans. I applaud Congressman HONDA for introducing it, the Japanese American Citizens' League for endorsing it, and urge all of my colleagues to vote for it.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Culberson). The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) that the House suspend the rules and agree to the resolution, H. Res. 56.
The question was taken.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds of those present have voted in the affirmative.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX and the Chair's prior announcement, further proceedings on this motion will be postponed.