Solidarity Rally for Immigrant Justice held at Travis Park in San Antonio during the 2019 Crystal City Pilgrimage.

SAN ANTONIO — The 2023 Crystal City Pilgrimage will be held from Oct. 26 to 29 to commemorate 75 years since the Crystal City Internment Camp in Texas closed in February 1948.

This year’s theme is “Reaching Across Barbed Wire Fences.” In addition to learning about the unique history and stories of survivors of the Crystal City Internment Camp, this year’s pilgrimage will look at the legacy of solidarity and activism between the internees and the present-day Crystal City community.

It will begin with a welcome reception on Thursday, Oct. 26, at the La Quinta Hotel by Wyndham San Antonio.

On Friday, Oct. 27, there will be a tour of the Crystal City Internment Camp site and a ceremony at the Crystal City Japanese American Memorial.

On Saturday, Oct. 28, there will be a day of workshops and presentations on Japanese American history and culture.

The pilgrimage will conclude with a closing ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 29.

A street in Crystal City will be renamed Calle Aiko y Sachiko in memory of two Japanese Peruvian girls, Aiko Oyakawa and Sachiko Tanabe. The dear friends tragically drowned in the Crystal City camp pool in 1944. They were both 10 years old.

The Swimming Pool Memorial Monument, created by award-winning art director and designer Kazumu Julio Cesar Naganuma, will be unveiled at the camp site. His work includes the San Francisco Japantown History Walk, Alameda’s Tonarigumi Historic Japantown markers, and the “Enemy Alien Files” traveling exhibit. Naganuma is a Japanese Peruvian who was kidnapped with his family and interned at Crystal City.

The Crystal City Pilgrimage Committee is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of Japanese American confinement at Crystal City during World War II.

Deadline to register is Sept. 8. The fee for the pilgrimage is $375 and includes eight meals. Participants must reserve their hotel accommodations and flights separately. For more information, visit


During World War II, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) leased from the U.S. Farm Security Administration over 200 acres of land to create an internment camp for “enemy aliens ” at Crystal City, located approximately 110 miles southwest of San Antonio. The INS operated the camp from 1942 until 1948, holding as many as 4,000 internees, many of whom had been deported from Latin America to the U.S.

Unlike other INS camps, Crystal City accommodated families that had been separated during the war. INS officials referred to it as the “family internment camp” and boasted about its distinctive features, such as a makeshift swimming pool. Yet life within the camp was restricted in many respects, including mail censorship, and the INS never forgot that it was the keeper of allegedly “dangerous enemy aliens.” (Source: Densho)

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