David Inoue, Executive Director
Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs
Washington, DC – As the government shutdown enters its fourth week, approximately 800,000 government workers are missing their first paycheck of the year. The result for many of these workers will be an inability to pay for fundamental expenses such as mortgages, rent, car, utilities, and food. The closure of our government affects us all as our national parks have been overrun into disrepair; our food is endangered as inspections are curtailed; farmers are unable to purchase the seeds they need because they are unable to access the support programs provided by the government in response to tariff battles. The reduced economic activity will have a ripple effect to businesses facing less demand for services or unpaid bills. The damage being done to our country is deep and far reaching.
The shutdown is due to the President’s demand that the American taxpayers fund the construction of a southern border wall. Claims of a national emergency due to security threat ring hollow as we approach the two year anniversary of the Muslim travel ban, also supported by flimsy claims of a national security threat. The President has continued to use falsehoods to promote his position, painting an incorrect picture of immigrants and asylum seekers as a danger to our country. The national emergency we face now is the one created by the government shut down.
This tactic has been used throughout history against immigrant communities in our country. The xenophobia that served as the basis for anti- Asian immigration policies in the late 1800s and early 1900s culminated in the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, a chilling reminder of what this type of demagoguery can lead to.
We reiterate our past calls for the President to abandon his strategy of promoting false fear of immigrants. Border security can be accomplished without scapegoating immigrants and without an expensive and ineffective wall paid for by American taxpayers. We have not always lived up to our ideal as the nation whose Statue of Liberty welcomes, “Your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Building a wall sends a clear message: that we have abandoned these ideals and reject the strength that immigration has brought to our continuously evolving and growing country.
The Japanese American Citizens League is a national organization whose ongoing mission is to secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry. The leaders and members of the JACL also work to promote cultural, educational and social values and preserve the heritage and legacy of the Japanese American community.