As leaders of institutions in the Japanese American community, we are joining with people across the country who are horrified by the Trump Administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy and treatment of families at the border. Over 76 years ago, the U.S. Government rounded up 120,000 Japanese Americans and sent them to concentration camps during World War II. Often, family members were separated without knowing what happened to one another for months. It is all too painful and reminiscent to see children being ripped from the arms of their parents at the border and housed in cages, in modern day internment camps. Because public outcry has been so vehement, the Trump Administration was forced to try to backpedal on separating families, but these children and families are still being imprisoned and prosecuted.
As Japanese American community organizations, we have an obligation to stand with these immigrants today, and bring light to the parallels to the shameful chapter in our country's history that our community endured. We understand that there has been a long history of such injustices – perpetrated against Native Americans, African Americans and others – we need to stand with all people who have been similarly treated.
The zero-tolerance policy is just the latest in a series of immigration practices by the Trump Administration that lack a basic sense of humanity. There have been indiscriminate arrests, racial profiling, blanket denials of asylum to those fleeing violence and an unwillingness to extend protections to Dreamers–undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children who now live under the constant threat of being deported from the only country they have known.
The current immigration bills being considered in Congress and supported by the Trump Administration are insufficient. We stand with all those demanding that the immigrant children currently in custody be immediately reunited with their families and calling for a truly humane and fair immigration policy that does not punish those seeking a better life, and does not prevent families from being reunited.
Leslie Ito, Executive Director Japanese American Cultural & Community Center
Ann Burroughs, President and CEO Japanese American National Museum
Michelle Yamashiro, Interim Executive Director Kizuna
Dean Matsubayashi, Executive Director Little Tokyo Service Center
Kathy Masaoka, Co-Chair Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress
Tony Osumi, Steering Committee Chair Nikkei Progressives
Michael Okamura, President Little Tokyo Historical Society