WASHINGTON — Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is taking criticism for comparing President Obama’s recent unilateral action on immigration to President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which resulted in the internment of Japanese Americans.

“Think of what happened in World War II, where the president issued an executive order,” Paul said on Nov. 21 in a speech in Kentucky. “He said to Japanese people, ‘We’re going to put you in a camp. We’re going to take away all of your rights and liberties and we are going to intern you in a camp.’

“I care that too much power gets in one place. Why? Because there has been instances in our history where we allow power to gravitate to one person and that one person then makes decisions that really are egregious.”

Sen. Rand Paul
Sen. Rand Paul

Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose), who was interned as a child, said in a statement on Nov. 24: “Rand Paul’s comments comparing President Obama’s executive order on Immigration with President Roosevelt’s executive order that imprisoned thousands of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II could not be more misguided. At best, he is confused. At worst, he is just wrong.

“President Roosevelt’s action was based on racism, fear, hysteria, war, and the lack of real political leadership. He succumbed to political pressure to deny constitutional protections to 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of who were U.S.-born citizens.

“President Obama, on the other hand, through his commitment to immigration reform and American values, is using his executive order to include, not exclude, people. He is working to keep intact immigrant families who play by the rules, not exclude undocumented parents and other DACA (deferred action for childhood arrivals) eligible individuals.

“President Obama is showing true leadership by taking action when the Republican leadership of the House has failed to let Congress do so.

“The incarceration of U.S. citizens of Japanese origin, including me and my family, was a misuse of executive order. As someone who was a victim of Executive Order 9066, I can say without hesitation that Roosevelt was wrong. It was a misuse of power. President Obama’s order is an appropriate use of executive order because Congress did not do its job.

“Every president has the constitutional right to use executive orders. What Sen. Paul fails to say, recognize, or admit to is the motive and outcome of the use of this power. President Obama is using this power correctly – President Roosevelt did not.”

Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside) commented on Nov. 23, “Sen. Paul’s comments likening President Obama’s executive action that provides immigration relief to millions of people in this nation to the internment of Japanese Americans is insulting — not only to the millions who will benefit from President Obama’s executive action, but to the thousands of Japanese who were interned during World War II, including my own mother and father.

“At best, his comments are revisionist history, wrapped in a logical fallacy.

“President Obama’s executive action prioritizes the protection of vulnerable, hard-working immigrants. Executive Order 9066 did the opposite and was not just a failure of the executive, but a failure of each branch of government, as Congress allowed the internment of thousands to take place, and the Supreme Court failed to uphold the constitutional rights of those interned.

“While I’m sure that Sen. Paul’s purpose of making these comments was to feed the libertarian fantasy of rampant government overreach in everything President Obama does, the fact remains that there is absolutely no comparison to his executive action, which allows millions of hard-working immigrants to no longer live in fear, and the systematic stripping of basic human rights of Japanese Americans by every branch of government.”

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