Decades of discrimination: national crisis has often ushered in massive suspensions of civil rights.
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.
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|Date:||Sep 22, 2003|
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