On Jan. 7, the Manzanar Committee, sponsors of the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage and Manzanar At Dusk programs, along with the Katari youth education/engagement project, expressed grave concerns regarding reports that the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agency has detained persons of Iranian ancestry, including American citizens, at our nation’s borders — singling them out solely because of their ancestry.

Reports indicate that persons of Iranian ancestry are being denied entry into the U.S.

Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey warned that the U,S, government has not learned from its mistakes when it unjustly incarcerated more than 120,000 Japanese/Japanese Americans during World War II in American concentration camps and other confinement sites due to “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.”

“The news that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents are detaining Iranians — citizens and immigrants — is an outrage and must be condemned by all democratic-minded people,” he said. “In 1979, during the Iranian Revolution, the Manzanar Committee, and it’s then-chair, Sue Kunitomi Embrey, condemned calls for the Department of Justice to incarcerate Iranians, saying it was all too familiar to Japanese Americans.

“The failure of political leadership during World War II led to the unconstitutional and racist incarceration of our families. Today, it is more than a failure of leadership. Rather, it is a rabidly xenophobic, white supremacist immigration policy that has instituted a Muslim travel ban, torn families apart, and incarcerated children in cages without humane housing or health care.

“The unlawful and racist detentions must stop. Congress and democratic-minded people must act so the same racist policies that led to Japanese Americans being stripped of our constitutional rights, forcibly detained, and incarcerated without cause or due process, never happens again. We must never again allow war to justify racism or other kinds of discrimination.”

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