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Decades of discrimination: national crisis has often ushered in massive suspensions of civil rights.

There is a pattern here, immigrants have been unjustifiably and illegally targeted by the U.S. government in response to national crises across the decades. Exploring the similarities between three events--the Palmer Raids, Japanese internment, and the current "war on terrorism"--reveals how responses to a national crisis can often precipitate massive suspensions of civil rights. Historians have consistently critiqued both the Palmer Raids and Japanese internment as unwaranted, anti-immigrant, racist, and illegal. But how closely is the "war on terrorism" following the patterns of the past?

On June 2, 1919, a series of bombs exploded across eight American cities. In response to the bombings, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer ordered a massive roundup and detention of all suspected "alien reds." Thinking chat members of anarchist, communist, and socialist groups were responsible for the bombings, Palmer authorized the massive roundup of Russian and Eastern European immigrants. Without being charged with any crime, thousands were detained, held in secret, denied bail, and denied access to lawyers. Although not one person was connected to the June 2 bombings, hundreds were eventually deported without trials.

On December 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. In response co the attack, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the military to begin interning Japanese American citizens and immigrants. Without being charged with any crime, 120,000 Japanese Americans were removed from their homes and placed in makeshift internment camps for the duration of World War II. No Japanese American was ever convicted of espionage or aiding the Japanese government during World War II.

In response to the attack on September 11, 2001, the U.S. government quickly broadened the powers of the Department of Justice and began detaining and questioning thousands of immigrants from Arab or Muslim countries. Today, Attorney General John Ashcroft is calling for expanding powers of the PATRIOT Act in order to fight the "war on terrorism." Already Ashcroft's discriminatory policies have unjustly impacted hundreds of thousands of immigrants and people of color.
PALMER RAIDS OF 1919 JAPANESE INTERNMENT

GOVERNMENT POLICY USED GOVERNMENT POLICY USED

* Sedition Act (1918) * Immigration and Nationality Act
 (1940)
* Deportation Act (1918)
 * Alien Registration Act (1940)
* Espionage Act (1917)
 NEW POLICIES PROPOSED & ENACTED
NEW POLICIES PROPOSED & ENACTED
 * Attorney General Biddle
* Davey Bill: Called for the authorized raids without a
 immediate deportation of any search warrant on the homes of
 alien convicted of actions or people of Japanese descent.
 speech against the U.S.
 government and for the * Executive Order 9066 broadly
 denaturalization of any extended powers of military to
 naturalized citizen convicted of round up and detain "any and all
 sedition. persons" from designated areas
 of the country as necessary for
* Over 52 bills targeting national security.
 political radicals proposed by
 U.S. Legislators.

GOVERNMENT SPONSORED ACTIONS GOVERNMENT SPONSORED ACTIONS

* Police/FBI raids on suspected * FBI rounded up and detained
 "alien reds." "selected" Japanese aliens.

* More than 10,000 arrested * Over 120,000 persons of Japanese
 without being charged with any descent interned without being
 crime. Government kept names of charged with any crime.
 detainees secret amd expedited
 the deportation process. Palmer * Alien Enemy Identification
 called for increased deportation Program monitored suspected
 of "red." populations of Japanese, German,
 and Italian immigrants. Any
* Palmer claimed over 300,000 alien who failed to register
 "alien reds" existed in U.S. and with the government could be
 must be questioned by U.S. imprisoned.
 intelligence and security
 officials.

TREATMENT OF DETAINEES TREATMENT OF DETAINEES

(Palmer Raid detainees) were held Inside the camp, we had the sense
in unconscionable conditions, that America was outside the
interrogated incommunicado, and in fence, and America was a dangerous
some cases tortured. place. Sometimes people say, 'It
 wasn't that bad.' But it was that
--David Cole, professor, bad. It was something that bad.'
Georgetown University But it was 1942 nobody did
 anything about it. We were out
 there on our own.

 --John Tateishi director,
 Japanese American Citizens League

DEPORTATION DEPORTATION

* More than 500 people without any * Over 4,724 people without any
 connections to the bombings were connections to espionage were
 deported. deported.

LEVEL OF PUBLIC SUPPORT LEVEL OF PUBLIC SUPPORT

* Despite the initial public * Bent on the idea of wartime
 support for the Palmer Raids, necessity and propelled by
 opposition began to build when racial hysteria, most Americans
 continued violence Palmer warned supported the internment. The
 about never materialized. U.S. Supreme Court twice upheld
 Palmer's demands for increased the legitimacy of the internment
 power also, ultimately and deemed wartime incarceration
 diminished the elvel of public based on race constitutional.
 support.

WHAT THE RECORD SAYS WHAT THE RECORD SAYS

* Historians generally contend * Not a single incident of
 that the raids were unwarranted, espionage or treason was found
 anti-immigrant, and fueled by to be committed by Japanese
 the political motivations of Americans throughout the course
 Attorney General Palmer and by of World War II.
 public hysteria stemming from
 Palmer's edicts. The raids are
 characterized as an illegal * In 1988, the U.S. government
 usurpation of government offered a formal apology to all
 authority. Japanese Americans, stating:
 "Executive Order 9066 was not
 justified by military necessity.
 The broad historical causes
 which shaped these decisions
 were race prejudice, war
 hysteria, and a failure of
 political leadership. A grave
 injustice was done to American
 citizens and resident aliens of
 Japanese ancestry."

POST-SEPTEMBER 11th

GOVERNMENT POLICY USED

* Illegal Immigration Reform and
 Immigrant Responsibility Act
 (1996)

* Anti-Terrorism and Effective
 Death Penalty Act (1996)

NEW POLICIES PROPOSED & ENACTED

* Establishment of Department of
 Homeland Security.

* PATRIOT Act 1 (2001) broadly
 extended powers of government
 conduct searches, conduct
 surveillance and detain
 suspected terrorists without
 due Process.

* PATRIOT Act II proposes to
 extends powers of

* PATRIOT Act I and calls for the
 denaturalization of any citizen
 with connections to suspected
 terrorist groups.

GOVERNMENT SPONSORED ACTIONS

* INS/FBI raids on suspected
 "terrorists," targets business
 owned immigrants, and monitors
 mosques.

* Over 1,200 detained without
 being chargred with any crime.
 Currently, the exact number of
 detainees is unknown due to
 government secrecy.

* INS claims over 314,000
 immigrants have outstanding
 orders of deportation and begins
 the Alien Absconders Apprehension
 Initiative.

* Ashcroft orders over 82,000
 immigrants from 22y countries to
 special registration with
 government.

TREATMENT OF DETAINEES

I have now been in solitary
confinement for three and a half
months. If it hadn't been for the
Koran and prayer, would have lost
mymind or had a nervous
breakdown ... Why am I imprisoned?
Why in solitary confinement? And
why under maximum security
measures? I have many questions
and no answers have many questions
and no answer. What are they
accusing me of? Nobody knows.

--Letter from a detainee in the
Metropolitan Detention Center

DEPORTATION

* More than 13,000 people without
 any connections to terrorist
 organizations were deported and
 this number is growing. (Since
 the 1996 immigration overhaul,
 more than 1 million people from
 over 120 countries have been
 deported by the U.S. government.)

LEVEL OF PUBLIC SUPPORT

* According to a Fox News/Opinion
 Dynamics survey conducted in
 February 2003, 71 percent of
 Americans approve of the job the
 government is doing protecting
 the country from terrorism, and
 only 19 percent disapprove.

WHAT THE RECORD SAYS

* None of the thousands of
 people detained or questioned
 in response to September 11
 have been convicted on
 terrorism charges.

A government that is supposed to
be protecting us has terrified the
very heart of everything I hold
dear.

--Theresa Allyn, student whose
 mother was deported in January
 2003

Sources: Amnesty Now, ACLU,-Human Rights Watch, Amnesty Internationl,
Families for Freedom, The New york Times articles, Smithsoniam
Institued.

Photos: Fred, Askew, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs
Division.


Renee Willette is a research associate at the Applied Research Center.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Color Lines Magazine
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Willette, Renee
Publication:Colorlines Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2003
Words:1282
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