Racial Profiling or Military Necessity? “Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan” -Franklin D Roosevelt; Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation On December 7th, 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, kicking off the fight for WWII. Yet while Military forces of Japan and the United States fought in the Pacific, there was a fight happening on the U. S. Pacific coast between American-Japanese citizens and aliens versus American citizens.
Over one hundred thousand people of Japanese ancestry were confined to internment camps, of these approximately two-thirds were U. S. Citizens. With the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in early December, it caused the United States to dive into war. This quickly led American people to believe that there was treachery about with the Japanese. Along with this fear, there was doubt of the loyalty of those Japanese-Americans that were currently living on the west coast. President Franklin D Roosevelt signed an order in February 1942 stating that U. S. Military was allowed to exclude any and all persons from certain areas of the U.
S. as necessary. This removed any Americans with Japanese ancestry from the West Coast, placing them under armed guard, otherwise known as internment camps for up to four years. The Military justified their actions for these internment camps by claiming that there was a danger of those Japanese descent spying for their country. The U. S. Military used the threat to the American people as their justification for the internment camps, but the Executive Order 9066, the order that Franklin D Roosevelt signed in 1942, was used as the Constitutional Justifications for creating the internment camps.
A few years later there was a law passed by the government making it possible for an internee to renounce their American citizenship. Of the many Japanese that were kept in internment camps for almost four years, only 1,327 were deported back to their home country. There were over five thousand of the Japanese-Americans that took advantage of this law and became American citizens once again. Though the Japanese may have believed that this was the better choice at the time, those that stayed in America became victims of ridicule, hate, and continued racial profiling.
Given the government did give the Japanese the chance to gain back their citizenship, hard feelings and anger towards American government and military forces still existed. These hard feelings did not go unnoticed, there are three different cases with the supreme court that questioned if the internment camps were constitutional or if President Franklin D Roosevelt and the congress abused their war time powers. In the case of Hirabayashi vs. United States (1943), Hirabayashi was convicted of violating curfew and relocation order.
This is after Executive Order 9066 had been approved and carried out by Military forces. Hirabayashi’s appeal of his conviction reached the Supreme Court, but both charges were later overturned by the U. S. District Court in Seattle and the Federal Appeals Court. Another case dealing with the Japanese-Americans and Supreme Court would be Yasui vs. United States(1943), which was a companion case and decided the same day as Hirabayashi’s case. Yasui’s case also had to deal with the curfews set by FDR.
The court affirmed his conviction of the misdemeanor, and Yasui had forfeited his citizenship. Not only did Japanese-Americans look for justice through cases in the Supreme Court, they also wanted official apologies from the government. For the internment camps, taking rights away from American citizens, and racial profiling. Though it took twenty-eight years for them to receive these apologies, in 1988 President Ronald Reagan gave an official apologies to the Japanese-American community, and signed the Civil Rights Act of 1988 bill into law.