Families of Plaintiffs in Iconic SCOTUS Japanese American Incarceration Cases File Joint Brief Against Trump Muslim Ban

Gordon Hirabayashi, Minoru Yasui and Fred Korematsu in a photograph taken in 1983. (Photo credit: copyrighted Bob Hsiang Photography. Please direct any requests for photo usage directly to Mr. Hsiang.)

In an historic move, the families of Gordon Hirabayashi, Minoru Yasui, and Fred Korematsu  — the three men behind three landmark Supreme Court cases that challenged the constitutionality of Japanese American incarceration (JACL’s Power of Words) — filed a joint amicus brief to the Supreme Court yesterday paralleling President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban with the forcible imprisonment of Japanese Americans in camps during World War II.

In 1942, Gordon Hirabayashi and Minoru Yasui filed separate Supreme Court cases challenging the constitutionality of a federally-imposed curfew on Japanese Americans, a precursor to removal orders that led to the World War II incarceration of Japanese American citizens. That same year, Fred Korematsu was arrested after he refused to report for removal and relocation orders, and his appeal of that arrest formed the basis of his Supreme Court challenge of Executive Order 9066. These three cases — along with the Ex Parte Endo decision — form the bulk of the Supreme Court case history on federal targeting of specific racial or ethnic minority groups under the auspices of national security.

One need not try too hard to see the relevance of this case history on today’s fight to stop Trump’s attempt Muslim travel ban.

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Travel Bans and Incarceration Camps: A Country that Forgets its History is Poised to Repeat It | #DayofRemembrance

Three young Japanese American incarcerees peer through a barbed wire fence at Manzanar camp. (Photo credit: Toyo Miyatake)

75 years ago today, an American president passed an executive order that led to the forcible removal and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese and Japanese American men, women and children in American concentration camps (Note: JACL’s Power of Words Handbook).

For years, Japanese and Japanese American civilians were imprisoned in hastily-erected assembly centers and camps under harsh, isolated conditions and guarded by American soldiers whose guns were pointed inward. Racism lay at the root of this incarceration: America’s federal government offered the thin reasoning that incarcerees’ race was proof that Japanese American citizens and their parents were spies for the Japanese military. Actor George Takei was a child of 5 when he was labeled a threat to national security by his government, and forced by gunpoint to a distant incarceration camp.

Today, America is poised to repeat the mistakes of its history. A new president sits in the Oval Office who routinely uses the spectre of national security threats to target groups of people with discriminatory executive action. Compared to 1942, the victims may differ but the federal government’s reasoning is the same: entire communities of innocent civilians are being labeled as enemies of the state by virtue of their race alone.

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900+ Asian American Studies Scholars Issue Collective Statement Decrying Trump’s Proposed Muslim Registry

collective-statement-aas-muslim-registry

Over 900 Asian American Studies scholars from across the United States issued a joint statement today decrying President-Elect Donald Trump’s proposal to create a national registry of Muslims and Muslim Americans.

Trump has repeatedly said that as president he would institute aggressive measures to limit immigration of Muslims into the country and to place Muslims currently within the United States’ borders under close scrutiny. He has promised to halt the entry of Syrian refugees and to also ban immigration from a number of countries — including Pakistan and the Philippines — with large Muslim populations. He is quoted as suggesting the creation of a national database of Muslim and Muslim Americans — a proposal that is likely unconstitutional — and he staffed his White House transition team with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the architect of the highly controversial NSEERS registry system which was used to monitor the movement of Muslim immigrants under George W. Bush and the first half of the Obama administration.

Earlier this month, Trump surrogate Carl Higbie went on Fox News to defend Trump’s alarming proposals to register Muslims and Muslims Americans. In an appearance on The Kelly File, Higbie suggested that Trump’s proposal for a national Muslim registry has legal precedent: Japanese American incarceration during World War II (for a note on language, see JACL’s Power of Words handbook).

It should come as no surprise that Asian American Studies scholars have something to say about that dubious line of reasoning.

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Carl Higbie Needs to Learn AAPI History

Megyn Kelly is unable to control this side-eye she gives to Carl Higbie when he says he wasn't talking about incarceration. (Photo credit: YouTube / Fox News)
Megyn Kelly is unable to control this side-eye she gives to Carl Higbie when he says he wasn’t talking about incarceration. (Photo credit: YouTube / Fox News)

Yesterday, I reported that Trump supporter Carl Higbie had appeared on Fox News’ The Kelly File to offer Japanese American incarceration (a note on language by the JACL) as a legal precedent for a national Muslim registry.

Last night, Higbie was invited back onto The Kelly File to clarify his statements (video after the jump).

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Trump Supporter Cites Japanese American Incarceration to Justify Planned Muslim Registry

Trump supporter Carl Higbie in a Fox News appearance with Megyn Kelly on November 16, 2016. (Photo credit: Fox / Mediate)
Trump supporter Carl Higbie in a Fox News appearance with Megyn Kelly on November 16, 2016. (Photo credit: Fox / Mediate)

We all knew it would come to this, didn’t we?

Last night, Trump supporter Carl Higbie, a former spokesperson for the Great America PAC, appeared on Fox News’ The Kelly File to defend the Trump administration’s plans to create a national registry of Muslims. When challenged about the unconstitutionality of such a plan, Higbie declared that the proposed registry had legal precedent, highlighting Japanese American incarceration as an example (video after the jump).

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