Saturday, February 19, 2011

69 years ago today, FDR authorized "exclusion zones" (formal regret later expressed by Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush)

From Wikipedia:
Executive Order 9066, signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, allowed authorized military commanders to designate "military areas" at their discretion, "from which any or all persons may be excluded." These "exclusion zones," unlike the "alien enemy" roundups, were applicable to anyone that an authorized military commander might choose, whether citizen or non-citizen. Eventually such zones would include parts of both the East and West Coasts, totaling about 1/3 of the country by area. Unlike the subsequent detainment and internment programs that would come to be applied to large numbers of Japanese Americans, detentions and restrictions directly under this Individual Exclusion Program were placed primarily on individuals of German or Italian ancestry, including American citizens.
Subsequent edicts in March and May of 1942 led to internment camps on American soil.

In 1976, President Gerald Ford issued a proclamation terminating EO 9066, calling it a "tragedy" to learn from:
I call upon the American people to affirm with me this American Promise -- that we have learned from the tragedy of that long-ago experience forever to treasure liberty and justice for each individual American, and resolve that this kind of action shall never again be repeated.
In December 1982, President Jimmy Carter's Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) concluded that EO 9066 was based in part on "a failure of political leadership." (I highly recommend the book The Principled Politician, about Republican Colorado Governor Ralph Carr, who demonstrated some of the political leadership that was lacking at the time.)

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a law codifying the CWRIC's findings, complete with an official apology and reparations for Executive Order 9066 and its aftermath.

President George H.W. Bush signed the 1989 appropriations bill for the reparations payments.

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