An aerial photo of the barracks at the Amache incarceration site near Granada, Colo., circa 1942. (Colorado State Archives)

WASHINGTON – The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Nov 18 passed the Amache National Historic Site Act (H.R. 2497/S.1284).

The legislation now goes on to consideration by the full Senate.

The bipartisan bill was introduced by Reps. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) and Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and overwhelmingly passed in the House of Representatives in July. The Senate version of the bill was introduced by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.). If passed, the bill would designate the site, located just outside Granada, Colo., an official unit of the National Park System.

The Amache incarceration site was a part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s anti-Japanese war effort at the height of World War II. After signing Executive Order 9066, Roosevelt put in motion one of the most shameful events in U.S. history and forced Japanese Americans – mostly U.S. citizens – from their homes without trial and into incarceration camps across the country. All told, over 120,000 Japanese Americans were unconstitutionally imprisoned for over three years.

“As a young boy at Amache, I never thought I’d see an America that cared about my story. Today’s Senate committee hearing moves us closer to making the dream of honoring Amache as part of the National Park System a reality,” said Ken Kitajima, Amache survivor. “Thanks to the committee and to Sens. Bennet and Hickenlooper for this big step forward, and now I will be watching for the full Senate to approve and pass this bill that I’ve waited to see for so long and that will benefit us all.”

“Congressmen Neguse and Buck demonstrated what cooperation looks like on the Hill,” said Mike Honda, former member of Congress and Amache survivor. “Let’s hope the Senate collaborates in the same manner and sends the bill to the White House, where this then will be the expression and realization of the people’s will.”

“Today’s vote speaks to the strong bipartisan and grassroots legacy of Amache. We applaud the leadership of Sens. Bennet and Hickenlooper and the enduring voice of the Amache community,” said Tracy Coppola, Colorado senior program manager, National Parks Conservation Association. “As America’s storyteller, the National Park Service can preserve places like Amache that challenge us all to act toward a better future where justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are America’s top priority.

“Time is of the essence. We urge Congress to keep the momentum going and look forward to swiftly getting this bill through the full Senate and to President Biden’s desk.”

Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.6 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve the nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.

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