June 12, 2019
For Immediate Release
David Inoue, Executive Director
Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs
The Japanese American Citizens League is shocked and dismayed by the administration’s announcement that unaccompanied minors will be incarcerated at Fort Sill, a former World War II incarceration site. In 1942, Fort Sill imprisoned approximately 700 Japanese immigrants without evidence of sedition or disloyalty. These individuals were part of the initial wave of roundups of community leaders and others who were first generation immigrants to the United States from Japan, though some had lived in this country for many years.
Fort Sill was also used under the previous administration for emergency housing of detained immigrants. It was wrong then and is wrong now. JACL reiterates our opposition to the nation’s policy of expanded detention of minors often for periods longer than legally acceptable. The psychological damage being done to these children is permanent and will be echoed by way of intergenerational trauma for years to come.
Upon learning of the government’s decision to utilize Fort Sill for the imprisonment of children JACL President Jeffrey Moy noted, “All of the incarceration sites today remind the Japanese American community of the pain our government inflicted upon us. Many of those who survived the camps and who are still living today, were children when they were incarcerated. Reactivating sites such as Fort Sill for the purpose of incarcerating children serves only to reopen these deep emotional scars while simultaneously creating new ones in an already vulnerable population.”
JACL calls upon the administration to reconsider its ongoing expansion of juvenile detention. This expansion of detention as a deterrent necessitates the reopening of Fort Sill and other sites to accommodate the growing population of unnecessarily incarcerated asylum seekers. We implore upon Congress to seek swift passage of the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act which would prohibit prolonged detention of minors and promote the use of community based supervision programs.
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.