WASHINGTON — On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the forced removal and incarceration of over 120,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry during World War II. This day is recognized annually in the Japanese American community as the Day of Remembrance, and was recognized in 2022 by President Biden, who called the order “one of the most shameful chapters in our nation’s history.”

In observance of this day, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements:

CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena): “This Sunday marks the 81st anniversary of President Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066, which led to the wrongful incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans on the basis of xenophobia and racism. This Day of Remembrance continues to be significant as xenophobia and fear-mongering are once again leading to anti-Asian hate and racist policies which infringe on the civil rights of Americans.

“I am proud that over three decades ago, Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 to formally apologize and provide redress to Japanese Americans who were racially targeted and stripped of their rights. However, we as a nation must continue to recognize this shameful part of our country’s history to ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of our past.”

CAPAC First Vice Chair Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.): “Today marks the 81st anniversary of th executive order that resulted in the unjust imprisonment of over 120,000 Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II. Executive Order 9066 was based out of fear and spurred prejudice, racism, and bigotry toward Japanese Americans in the wake of Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. This executive order destroyed the lives of American citizens for years and stands as a warning to us against allowing fear and xenophobia to dictate our policy.

“Today, we remember the wrongs of our past and rededicate ourselves to opposing hatred, xenophobia, and discrimination in all its forms, regardless of the moments of fear or danger.”

CAPAC Second Vice Chair Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside): “On this Day of Remembrance, we reflect on the pain and suffering Japanese Americans endured in internment during World War II with the signing of Executive Order 9066. More than 120,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry, including my parents and grandparents, suffered because of unjust fear and discrimination combined with a failure of political leadership. We are a nation that celebrates diversity and equality, and we must remain committed standing as one union, free of prejudice, intolerance, and xenophobia.”

CAPAC Whip Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Manhattan Beach): “Feb. 19, 2023 marks 81 years since President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which began a dark period of American history where Japanese Americans were unjustly incarcerated en masse. Fueled by xenophobia and racism, American authorities imprisoned more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II in an egregious violation of American values and our Constitution.

“As violence against the Asian American community continues following the COVID-19 pandemic, this Day of Remembrance reminds us that it is our responsibility to ensure that the horrific crimes committed against Japanese Americans can never happen again to any American.”

CAPAC Freshman Representative Rep. Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii): “When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, families were torn apart, once valued community members were shunned and subject to rampant xenophobia and racism, and hardworking business owners and workers saw their life’s work and everything they owned taken away from them.  Generations later, the shameful forced removal and incarceration of over 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry lives on as a painful reminder of how fragile our civil liberties are in times of crisis, and how steadfast we must be to stand up and protect them.

“As the great-granddaughter of an internee, I join my fellow AANHPI brothers and sisters in calling for this Day of Remembrance to serve as a moment of reflection as we band together to ensure these atrocities never happen again.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “Executive Order 9066 — a discriminatory and unconstitutional policy fueled by racism and xenophobia — led to the horrific and unjust internment of thousands of individuals of Japanese descent living across the U.S. during World War II. Policies born out of prejudice have no place in our country.

“As we reflect on this Day of Remembrance for Japanese internment, we must reaffirm our commitment to fighting against discrimination and racism and continue working to protect the civil rights and liberties of all — including by combatting the rise in AAPI hate.”

Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii): “Each time this year, we pause to remember one of the darkest chapters in our country’s history — a chapter in which leaders thinking they were doing right by our country did exactly wrong by our Constitution and people. A chapter which spared no part of our country including my home state of Hawai’i where, despite generations of loyal and constructive contribution, hundreds of Japanese Americans were interned at Honouliuli, an only recently rediscovered chapter in our own history now memorialized as a national monument.

“We also remember the Americans of Japanese ancestry in World War II who fought and died for the same country that had seized their property and interned their families and friends. We also remember you.”

Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.): “The era of internment stands as a painful reminder of the longstanding hate and discrimination the Asian American community continues to face today. On this Day of Remembrance we look back at the actions our government took against Japanese Americans and remember the pain inflicted when labeling each other as ‘other.’ Let’s learn from the mistakes of the past, let’s come together to speak out against hatred in all forms, and let’s work hand in hand to build a more just and equitable future in America for everyone.”

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.): “Today marks the 81st anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Baseless fears of Japanese Americans in 1942, stemming from the attack on Pearl Harbor, led to this racist and xenophobic executive order to be issued, leaving a dark stain on our nation’s history. We mark this day by reflecting on the pain and suffering endured by Japanese Americans, while denouncing all forms of discrimination.

“Today, Asian American communities still find themselves as targets of racial injustices and violent hate crimes, reminding us that there is still work left to do to combat all forms of prejudice and racism that linger in our country. Together on this Day of Remembrance, we must re-commit to working together to build a safer and more equitable future for all Americans.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland): “Eighty-one years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 and wrongfully imprisoned over 120,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps across the United States. These Americans were treated as enemies of the state solely because of their ethnicity. Today, I join the East Bay community in remembering those Americans who suffered because of government policies based on prejudice and xenophobia.

“On this Day of Remembrance, I urge people across the country to stand against racial prejudice and denounce bigotry in every form.”

Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-Carson): “Today, we reflect on one of our country’s tragic injustices, the signing of Executive Order 9066 and the resulting incarceration of over 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans during WWII. This violation of their civil rights and the trauma it caused remind us of the negative impacts of bigotry and xenophobia. Today is a reminder to learn from the past, recommit ourselves to taking action against racism and prejudice, and continue to work towards a more just and equitable society.”

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.): “The unjustified internment of Japanese Americans during World War II is a shameful chapter in our nation’s history. In Portland, Japanese Americans had to surrender for detention at the Pacific International Livestock and Exposition Center — now known as the Expo Center — where they lived in appalling conditions as they awaited relocation.

“On this Day of Remembrance for Japanese American incarceration, we honor the resilience of the Japanese American community in the face of injustice; recommit to rooting out xenophobia, racism, and discrimination in our society; and recognize the important contributions of Japanese Americans to our country.“

Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Whittier): “Eighty-one years ago, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which resulted in the forced imprisonment of thousands of Japanese Americans, simply because of their ancestry. As we reflect on this dark chapter in American history, we also acknowledge that anti-Asian hate remains very much alive today. Together, let us continue to stand up against discrimination and work to ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”

Rep. Norma Torres (D-Ontario): “During World War II, thousands of Americans of Japanese descent were unjustly removed from their homes and incarcerated. Executive Order 9066 remains one of the most shameful things the United States government has ever done. As we mark the Day of Remembrance, we must pledge to learn from this tragedy and commit to speaking out against hate wherever we see or hear it. And as your congresswoman, I join my colleagues and fellow Americans in saying ‘never again.’”

CAPAC is composed of members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Info: https://capac-chu.house.gov/

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