When President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, he authorized the evacuation of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast.
Visit the Camp Harmony Exhibit at http://www.lib.washington.edu/exhibits/harmony/exhibit/ to learn more about a typical internment camp.
Why was this done?
Was it constitutional?
What was the experience like for those who had been forced to relocate?
What actions did the government take to make up for Executive Order 9066?
Not surprisingly, the official reason was to isolate "enemy aliens," though 70% of the Japanese-Americans evacuated from their homes and business were US citizens of Japanese descent. 9066 referred to any of the various enemies, but the (non-white) Japanese, particularly on the West Coast, suffered the full force of unofficial US prejudice and racism. The government responded to the growing hatred and paranoia in the West, where most Japanese had settled over the course of more than 100 years. Unofficially, like Sioux in the Black Hills or Jews in Warsaw, the government paved the way for opportunists to seize territory, businesses, farms and personal possessions, with no respect for "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
"The evacuation of the Japanese-Americans from the western parts of Washington, Oregon, and California began in March 1942. There was no attempt to distinguish between the loyal and the disloyal, or between citizens and aliens." (Blum, 1976, p.160)
and, if that wasn't sleazy enough for American citizens------
"The evacuees were told not to sacrifice their personal property, but to store it if they could not sell it at a fair price. They could do neither. "Commercial buzzards," as one federal official observed, bought up business properties below fair value. The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, which was responsible for personal effects, assumed no liability for stored property and consistently encouraged liquidation." (Blum, 1976, p.160)
Blum, J. (1976). V Was for Victory: Politics and American Culture During World War II. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
The first quote addresses the original evacuation, as per 9066. Like the natural progression of policy from assimilation to evacuation to extermination of the Native Americans, the step from ...
Through primary source details of Japanese-American experiences, American History text excerpts, and period commentary, the question of constitutionality of internment of "enemy aliens" is raised. Daily life, American racism and institutional paranoia are brought to light in discussing the general practice as well as governement attempts at restitution.