Monday, Feb. 19, marks the 82nd anniversary of the signing of Govt Order 9066, which resulted within the elimination of over 125,000 folks of Japanese descent from the West Coast, almost 13,000 of them from Washington. The Japanese American neighborhood now commemorates this date with a nationwide Day of Remembrance.

The very first Day of Remembrance passed off in Seattle in 1978, organized by Japanese People who would finally lead a marketing campaign for reparations from the federal authorities. This 12 months, the Japanese American neighborhood of Western Washington commemorates our historic legacy by calling for closure of the Northwest Detention Heart, an immigrant jail in Tacoma operated by GEO Group, a non-public company. 

In 1983, the Fee on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians concluded in its closing report (“Personal Justice Denied”) that the mass incarceration of Japanese People by the U.S. authorities was attributable to “racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political management.” This assertion rings true over 40 years later. Right now, we see racial prejudice within the numbers of individuals of coloration held on the detention middle and the harsher remedy given to Black immigrants. Warfare hysteria within the post-9/11 conflict on terror has led to the militarization of the border beneath the guise of nationwide safety. And in one other failure of political management earlier this month, the Biden administration and Congress nearly traded away the right to asylum in trade for a rise in navy help.

As a neighborhood that skilled the denial of primary human and constitutional rights, indefinite detention and multigenerational harms, Japanese People are deeply alarmed by the open focusing on of immigrants and other people of coloration by our personal authorities and by the carceral system that denies undocumented folks the human rights assured by the Structure. 

As residents of the state of Washington, we’re outraged by the continued operation of NWDC. This infamous jail is well-known for its human rights abuses towards asylum-seekers who’ve been subjected to bodily and sexual violence, insufficient medical care, inadequate and rotten meals, solitary confinement and indefinite detention. When folks detained have spoken out towards abuses or sought outdoors help, they’ve confronted retaliation from GEO Group guards and workers. 9 starvation strikes have erupted at NWDC inside the final 12 months. Individuals solely select a starvation strike once they really feel they don’t have any different recourse to defend their human rights and exert management over their our bodies.

Japanese People skilled comparable abuses by the hands of the state in 1942, when our households had been detained on the Puyallup Fairgrounds, simply quarter-hour away from NWDC. That 12 months, our fellow People largely turned their backs whereas Japanese People had been rounded up for detention. We sorely wanted buddies to face by us then, and we struggle to close down NWDC now as a result of we’re decided to be the buddies we want we’d had in 1942.  

We name upon U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to make use of their energy and authority to chop federal funding to personal, for-profit detention contractors like GEO Group. We name on Gov. Jay Inslee to satisfy the spirit of the Keep Washington Working Act, to make sure that all individuals are handled equally when interacting with the justice system, no matter their immigration standing.

We demand that Immigration and Customs Enforcement shut NWDC and finish its history of violence and human rights abuses, its lack of transparency and accountability, its holding of individuals in indefinite detention and isolation and its denial of the fitting to a speedy and humane asylum course of. 

We demand that the U.S. finish its observe of criminalizing immigration and asylum-seeking, cease separating migrant households, and finish the usage of immigration detention. Cease recycling former Japanese American incarceration websites for continued use towards communities of coloration, equivalent to Fort Sill in Oklahoma — a navy website that held over 700 Japanese People throughout WWII that was proposed as a website to detain 1,600 unaccompanied immigrant youngsters beneath the Trump administration. Due to opposition organized by Tsuru for Solidarity and allies, the proposal was pulled and the power was by no means constructed. We will put an finish to NWDC’s cruelty as nicely.

It isn’t sufficient to commemorate a grave previous injustice. We should act collectively to cease the present one.

Cease repeating historical past.


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