NISEI AND ISSEI
Chapter 7: Loyalty: Leave and Segretation
By October 1942, the government was holding over 100,000 evacuees in relocation centers. Evacuation had been an emergency measure, but politics and the chimera of a threat to military security had sentenced the evacuees to indefinite confinement. They were still detained although no individual charges had been, or could have been, made against them. Supported by neither statute nor explicit executive order, the legal basis for confining evacuees was plainly suspect. The human toll the camps were taking was enormousphysical hardship, growing anger toward the United States and deteriorating morale. The tide of war turned with the American victory at the battle of Midway in June 1942 and as the possibility of Japanese attack grew more remote, the military necessity for detention and exclusion became increasingly difficult to defend. Nevertheless, other than the WRA's ineffective leave program, the government had no plans to remedy the situation and no means of distinguishing the loyal from the disloyalif it were inclined to do so. Total control of these civilians in the presumed interest of state security was rapidly becoming the accepted norm.
How would the government deal with this new status quo in the fall of 1942? Having bowed to political pressure in deciding to control and detain the ethnic Japanese, what standard or test or presumption was to be established to return the evacuees to liberty? Or would the government embrace the proposition that, in wartime, total control of suspect groups of civilians is justified and legally permissible?
Commentators have characterized the exclusion and detention of the ethnic Japanese as a triumph of military over civilian authority.  As our account of the decisions to evacuate and detain makes clear, this view is accurate to a limited degree since the military was carrying out a program largely conceived and promoted by civilian groups and politicians. The friction between military and civilian interests is more clearly seen in the decision of whether and how to end the detention. Some in the Western Defense Command argued that there was a military interest in restricting the release of the evacuees to those who posed no conceivable military threat and, ultimately, that the Army should prepare through planning and intelligence work to control large groups of suspect civilians in any future war. The security of the state should be paramount. The civilians at the top of the War Department understood their responsibility differently; returning the loyal evacuees to normal life outside a detention camp should be the touchstone of government policy and, since exclusion and detention rested on a military justification, the War Department had to play an active role in that effort. The WRA shared this view and had more liberal opinions on the indicia of loyalty. It is a bitter irony that the loyalty review program, which the WRA and the War Department established as the predicate for release from the campsthe first major governmental decision in which the interests of the evacuees prevailedwas carried out without sufficient sensitivity or knowledge of the evacuees. Designed to hasten their release, the program instead became one of the most divisive, wrenching episodes of the captivity.
The government decision makers closest to the evacuees increasingly believed that wholesale confinement was not justified or acceptable. Dillon Myer strongly held this view and was already looking for ways to achieve large-scale resettlement. Milton Eisenhower had never been comfortable with the program. Now in the fall of 1942 John J. McCloy also adopted this view as the matter was raised with him in the context of whether evacuees should be permitted to serve in the Army.
Once the decision to evacuate was made and the WRA had taken custody of the evacuees, Stimson and McCloy had largely left the treatment of Japanese Americans to others. The Nisei in the Army, their only immediate concern, were few because the Selective Service had stopped induction at about the time of the evacuation.  In February, making the decision to evacuate, Stimson and McCloy had relied heavily on DeWitt, ignoring the contrary views of the FBI and failing to seek other opinions. Since then McCloy had begun to study the matter and to hear that most evacuees were loyal, that they wanted to get out of the camps and prove their loyalty, and that they could assist the war effort.  He was persuaded by what he heard and believed it should be applied to War Department decisions.
Allowing the Nisei to serve would reverse a policy which had evolved over the previous year. On December 7, 1941, about 5,000 young Nisei from Hawaii and the mainland were in the Army, the majority having been drafted.  Immediately after Pearl Harbor, the Selective Service delegated discretion for the induction of Japanese Americans to local draft boards. Some Nisei volunteers were accepted, but the induction of others was delayed.  During the late winter and early spring of 1942, local draft boards became increasingly reluctant to draft Nisei. The center of discriminatory practice was again the West Coast. A War Department order of March 30, 1942, discontinued the induction of Nisei on the West Coast.  Enlisted Japanese Americans found themselves in a precarious situation. The personal attitude of their commanding officer was decisive; some Nisei stayed in service, while others were discharged without explanation. 
No clear-cut Selective Service policy was established to evaluate the status of draft-age Japanese Americans until June 17, 1942, when the War Department announced that it would not, aside from exceptional cases, "accept for service with the armed forces Japanese or persons of Japanese extraction, regardless of citizenship status or other factors."  In July, a War Department Board convened to examine Nisei induction, and "no immediate change in War Department policy was made except for selected individuals procurred [sic] for special purposes.  On September 14, the Selective Service adopted regulations prohibiting Nisei induction, and classifying registrants of Japanese ancestry IV-C, the status of enemy aliens. Previously, many draft-age Nisei had been reclassified from I-A to IV-F, unsuitable for military service. 
McCloy had favored using Nisei in the military since at least May 1942.  By fall, opinions supporting his position were beginning to trickle in. Delos Emmons, the commander in Hawaii, was particularly persuasive, arguing that the Nisei would make "grand soldiers."  His opinion was substantiated by the excellent performance of the all-Nisei Hawaii National Guard group then in training at Camp McCoy.  Nisei in the Military Intelligence Service Language School were doing equally well. Moreover, departmental officials involved in recruiting reported that large numbers of Nisei were embittered by the denial of their right to serve.  These voices inside the War Department were joined by some influential voices outside. Dillon Myer pressed the point with McCloy throughout the fall;  in November, the JACL passed a resolution requesting that the Selective Service be reinstituted. 
Perhaps because of the enlistment issue, McCloy was also beginning to ponder the plight of evacuees, locked up indefinitely in the unhealthy atmosphere of the camps. McCloy was not entirely sure of the ultimate loyalty of each ethnic Japanese, but he did not express the belief that all evacuees were inherently dangerous; it was clear to him that the evacuees could not be held in "pens" forever and that they should be released as soon as that was possible and safe.  In fact, it was impossible to consider a Nisei combat team apart from the exclusion and detention issue. Any discussion of whether the Nisei belonged in the armed forces inevitably questioned whether they could be trusted to bear armsin other words, whether they were loyal. And the question of loyalty inevitably focused on the presumption of probable disloyalty which was inherent in the exclusion.
There were other reasons to link the combat team to the general issue of release from detention. Recruiting for a combat team without loosening other restrictions would open the War Department to the charge that the Nisei were being used as "cannon fodder."  It would be unfair to deny individuals barred from military service the opportunity to participate in the war effort in some other way, and it would be illogical to argue that loyalty should be tested only for those who might serve in the Army.  Discussions began to focus on the combat team as a way to get evacuees out of the camps and to rehabilitate them in the eyes of the public. McCloy's assistant, Colonel Scobey, explained bluntly that the need was "to assist the release of these people from the centers, to expedite the WRA mission." 
McCloy himself was convinced that change was needed, but his advocacy alone did not make policy. A War Department study, commissioned earlier in 1942 and approved on September 14, recommended that "the military potential of the United States citizens of Japanese ancestry be considered as negative because of the universal distrust in which they are held."  Thus, by the end of September, the career military opposed McCloy.
On October 2, Elmer Davis, Director of the Office of War Information (OWI), and Milton Eisenhower, now Davis's deputy, raised the issue with the President. In order to establish the legitimate interest of the OWI, Davis characterized the issue as one of war propaganda and asked the President to intervene and authorize the enlistment of Japanese Americans. His memorandum also reflected the debate's humanitarian overtones:
As Davis and Eisenhower no doubt expected, the memorandum was referred to Secretary Stimson for comment. McCloy set out to persuade Stimson and General Marshall of the wisdom of his position. Dismissing the War Department study as too narrow, McCloy made three major points: almost everyone agreed that most Nisei were loyal; citizens had a fundamental right to serve their country; and enlistment would have an important psychological effect internationally.  Stimson took little convincing and sent Marshall a handwritten note which read in its entirety:
Meanwhile, the careerists were reviewing their previous findings. Their September recommendations against Nisei combat service had not been unanimous and, with indications that their civilian leadership was tending in the other direction, they revised their conclusions. On December 16, the general staff sent Marshall a memorandum advocating an all-Nisei combat team. 
The new recommendations were approved by Marshall on January 1, 1943.  In testimony before the Commission, McCloy recalled: "I encountered opposition from everybody except those on my immediate staff and General Marshall. I went to General Marshall who then ordered the unit formed." 
On January 2, 1943, a committee was convened by Deputy Chief of Staff McNarney and told that some evacuees might be released. The committee's job was to "determine by what means Japanese-Americans of the Nisei class may be released from war relocation centers, and, if released, what disposition may be made of them."  A week later, the committee reported back, recommending the procedure that ultimately prevailed.
A questionnaire for Japanese Americans would be devised to reveal "tendencies of loyalty or disloyalty to the United States,"  including questions about the background and affiliations of the Nisei, and also soliciting a pledge of loyalty to the United States. Teams of Army personnel would supervise execution of the forms at the relocation centers. Copies of the questionnaires for males within the age limits for military service would be sent to military intelligence to decide who should be inducted. The remaining questionnaires would go to the Provost Marshal General's office which would check with the FBI and Naval Intelligence and evaluate the answers given. Then the questionnaires would be shipped to the Western Defense Command for investigation.
The second phase of the program would be handled by a Joint Board, including representatives of the Navy, WRA, military intelligence and the Provost Marshal General, which would decide whether the individual might be released from the relocation center and whether he might be employed in a plant important to the war effort.  The Board's mission was subsequently amended to make the Board's determination on release advisory to the WRA, which retained final authority.  The Joint Board retained power to decide whether an individual would be allowed to work in a war production facility.
The Joint Board was conceived as a way to avoid multiple investigations. Individuals who had been investigated and released by the WRA were being reinvestigated by the Army sector commander after they reached their destination. This inefficient process also handicapped the arriving evacuee by branding him suspicious. The Board would now make the only investigation. 
The WRA had not been involved in the War Department's planning.  Upon learning of the forthcoming registration, early in January, the WRA proposed that the process be enlarged to cover all persons over 17 years of age, including the Issei. This step, they believed, would expedite the existing leave clearance process which took so long that promised jobs were sometimes gone before the evacuee was released. By asking everyone to fill out the form, the WRA reasoned, much of the investigative work could be done before the evacuee was actually ready to leave. The WRA thus prepared a companion questionnaire, titled "Application for Leave Clearance," to be filled out by the Issei and Nisei females.  The entire review program was vehemently but unsuccessfully opposed by DeWitt and the Western Defense Command, who remained firmly persuaded that the loyal could not be distinguished from the disloyal.  The War Department rejected these views and prepared to go forward with the WRA on the broad program of loyalty review and release.
Secretary Stimson announced the new policy on the combat team:
There was also a letter from the President, released the following week, approving the combat team. With a fine disregard for past treatment of the Nisei, Roosevelt proclaimed:
The first significant steps to end detention had been taken.
By February 6, ten teams of Army officers, enlisted men and WRA staff, trained for this assignment, were on the way to the relocation centers.  The questionnaires they carried sought background information, but also asked two prospective questions. Question 27 asked draft-age males: "Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?" For others, including the Issei and women, it asked whether they would be willing to join the WACs or the Army Nurse Corps. Question 28 was the loyalty question:
The registration teams arriving at the centers during the first weeks of February 1943 found a hostile audience. In the past year, evacuees had endured the evacuation, the assembly centers and the relocation camps. Living conditions were poor, their lives outside the centers had disintegrated, and the government had broken many promises. Congressmen in Washington continued to agitate for stripping the Nisei of citizenship. Disturbances at Poston and Manzanar during the two previous months showed tensions that existed to some degree at all the camps. It was not surprising that many were ready to question any government action that might affect their future,  and there was considerable sentiment for putting the claims of family ahead of those of country.
It became rapidly apparent that the government had not thought through the implications of the loyalty review program. Not only was the program forced on the evacuees with no notice and with few answers to important questions, but the documents themselves were flawed. The evacuees did not know how their responses would be used.  Particularly critical to the Issei was Question 28 on loyalty. The question was both unfair and unanswerable because it called upon the Issei to renounce their Japanese nationality, although they were barred by law from becoming United States citizens. To answer it affirmatively, they argued, would have made them "men without a country."  On the other hand, answering it negatively might well bring separation from one's family and attract suspicion to oneself as a security risk. The WRA quickly corrected the question to avoid forcing Issei to make such a Hobson's choice,  but suspicion and distrust lingered. There was confusion about the program and its basic intent. The document for Issei and women was titled "Application for Leave Clearance." Did this mean, asked many, that they would be forced to leave the center? They had lost their homes and property; with no assets were they now to be abandoned by the government in hostile communities? One evacuee described this dilemma:
The Issei were also bitter about their own treatment and that of their citizen children. As a Naval Intelligence report stated, Issei opposition to enlistment was based less on reluctance to see their sons fighting Japan than on losing faith in America:
The Nisei too doubted the government's good faith and were wary of the program. The same Army and country confining them and their families behind barbed wire now asked Japanese Americans to volunteer to fight for principles of liberty, justice and equal protection under the law. To some, the segregated combat unit, although signifying the restoration of some of their rights as citizens, also continued discrimination.  While German and Italian Americans were drafted by normal procedures through the Selective Service System, Japanese Americans were stigmatized by their classification as enemy aliens.
Others had different problems with Question 27. A "yes" answer might be interpreted as volunteering.  A number of those who were loyal would stop short of enlisting in the military. With dependents at home and perhaps relatives in Japan who might suffer reprisals if they were known to have enlisted, some could not easily say "yes" to Question 27.
Finally, many were obligated to care for aging parents who were becoming more dependent and fearful in the camps' isolated confinement. If they were separated on the basis of differing answers, who would tend the Issei? Some felt they had to comply with parents who demanded that they maintain family solidarity. 
The Nisei, too, had problems with Question 28, the loyalty question. Some saw it as a trick question: "forswearing" their allegiance to the Japanese Emperor required admitting that they had once had such an allegiance. 
Then, there was the insult of being asked to fill out another questionnaire which implicitly doubted one's loyalty. To many, their earlier compliance with the orders to evacuate and to be confined in the relocation centers had sufficiently shown their loyalty. 
Still, despite reservations, most answered that they were loyal. Some retained their faith in the United States; some felt that, whatever happened, their future lay here; some simply wanted to leave camp.
In those centers where good relations between government authorities and evacuees had fostered a sense of trust in the government, a higher proportion of evacuees were willing to state their loyalty. Minidoka, for example, had the highest number of positive responses. There, the project director consulted with a number of Issei leaders before any meetings on the loyalty questionnaire. Some of the Issei participated in the meetings, and thorough discussion followed. 
At the other extreme was Tule Lake. There, discussion was cursory and no time was allowed for discussion from the floor. When registration was to begin, many evacuees were unwilling to fill out questionnaires. After the administration announced that registration was compulsory, there were still refusals and resistance. Gangs formed to prevent others from registering and, eventually, a group of resisters were removed from the center. Finally, the community council and Issei planning board resigned.  Frank Kageta described his experience at Tule Lake:
Despite the turmoil, the WRA judged the program a success. The agency acquired the background data to expedite leave clearance, and 1,208 volunteers for the Army had been recruited.  Although this was a small proportion of the 10,000 eligible that the War Department had estimated,  and fell short of the 3,000 that it had expected to recruit,  the WRA judged that those who had volunteered represented "the cream of the draft-age group."  By WRA's count, 77,957 residents had been eligible to register, of whom 68,018 (87%) had answered the loyalty question with an unqualified "yes." Of the remaining 9,939, about 5,300 had answered "no " and the rest had failed to register, failed to answer the loyalty question, or qualified their loyalty in some way. Relatively few were unwilling to profess their loyalty. Still, government planners were disturbed to find that over 20 percent of the Nisei males were in the negative category. Of the approximately 21,000 Nisei males eligible to register, about 4,600 answered the loyalty question with a "no," a qualified answer or no reply. 
Although the Western Defense Command interpreted the results as a vindication of its position that there were many disloyal evacuees,  other observers looked behind the responses for reasons. Certainly some evacuees wanted to go to Japan and serve that country.  But, for many, the reasons for answering "no" had little to do with loyalty. As Dillon Myer explained it, the negative answers meant many things. They were the answers of people unhappy at the way they had been treated, enraged at the government, and discouraged about their future in the United States.  Testimony before the Commission supports Myer's conclusionthe loyalty questionnaire demanded a personal expression of position from each evacuee, a choice between faith in the future in America and outrage at present injustice. Most evacuees probably had deeply-ambiguous feelings about a government in whose rhetorical values of liberty and equality they wanted to believe, but who found their present treatment a painful contradiction of those values. The loyalty questionnaire left little room to express that ambiguity. Indeed, it provided an effective point of protest and organization against the government, from which an increasing number of evacuees felt alienated. The questionnaire finally raised the central question underlying exclusion policy, the loyalty issue which had dominated the political and personal lives of the Nikkei for the past year. Questions 27 and 28 forced evacuees to confront the conflicting emotions aroused by their relation to the government:
Personal responses to the questionnaire inescapably became public acts open to community debate and scrutiny within the closed world of the camps. This made difficult choices excruciating.
The response to the call for Army volunteers in Hawaii, where there was no substantial exclusion or detention, underscores the effects of the exclusion program. There, nearly 10,000 Nisei volunteeredone third of those of draft age, although the Hawaiian quota had been set at only 1,500. 
The registration process, conceived by the War Department and WRA as a dramatic step toward freedom, had become for many evacuees their bitterest experience in the camps.
With the ambiguous results of the loyalty questionnaire in hand, the government began to decide who should leave the camps. The WRA's leave policies had been in effect for several months. It was now ready to modify these. The War Department was not content to leave this matter to the WRA. Despite the continuing protestations that evacuees were a matter for the civilian WRA, the War Department plan of January 1943 called for the formation of a Japanese American Joint Board (JAJB)a largely military bodywhich would also have a hand in deciding whom to release. While the WRA would retain ultimate authority, the JAJB would recommend individual releases.
In devising a release policy after a year of war the justification for the evacuation and detentionmilitary necessityrequired reexamination. Logic suggests that the appropriate course would have been to have recognized that no threat to security existed in 1943 (whether or not it ever had), and to have thrown open the gates of the camps. No one, however, advocated this position. It would have created a public relations problem and perhaps raised doubt about the original decision to evacuateboth unpalatable. Two choices remained: one, to determine that the security risk still outweighed the right to individual liberty and, thus, to release as few people as possible. This was, in essence, the view of the WDC, which had never conceded the validity of the loyalty program. The other alternative was to find a compromise to balance the claims of security and liberty in individual cases. This was the position adopted by the JAJB and WRA. But, lacking common assumptions or precedent to guide their task, and having differing views on the matter, the two agencies found actual decisions about leave confusing, inconsistent and a cause of friction.
The Western Defense Command
On January 14, DeWitt first learned of the loyalty review program. For months, he had argued that the War Department's responsibility on Japanese American issues had ended with the exclusion from the West Coast; now the loyalty review program undermined DeWitt's fundamental premise that the loyal could not be separated from the disloyal. Rejection of that premise implied that the War Department was reversing DeWitt and his policy. Worse still from DeWitt's point of view, it would be difficult to sustain the exclusion of certified loyal evacuees from the Western Defense Command. DeWitt and Bendetsen turned to defeating the plan. They failed, but they did not change their minds. DeWitt and his associates remained firm in their belief that the evacuees were a risk to security. As long as they believed that the loyal could not be separated from the disloyal, they would find all ethnic Japanese suspect. Far from rethinking their position, they worked to substantiate it through a project designed to demonstrate "danger" from the ethnic Japanese.
The WDC research project began in 1942 to remedy the dearth of information on individual evacuees.  It was designed too to collect adverse information on as many ethnic Japanese as possible. The project's approach was to collect masses of material on the Japanese American communitynewspapers, immigration records, magazines and pamphlets of evacuee organizationsand to use it to identify dangerous organizations and individuals. For example, four Japanese language newspapers were analyzed from 1937 to 1942; information thus gained about organizations and their members were noted in individual files. Upon deciding that an organization was suspect, for example, because it had sent money to Japan to support the Russo-Japanese War, the WDC would identify all members of the organization and label them suspicious as well. From there, it might implicate their close relatives. The idea was to investigate an entire population and to evaluate individuals not by their statements or illegal acts but primarily by their affiliations and travel patterns. From records of entirely legal prewar activities, the WDC tried to evaluate an individual's potential risk to military security. The task was mammoth, the method crude and, by the WDC's own admission, fraught with error. After two and a half years, shortly after General Emmons took over the Western Defense Command, the research project remained incomplete but was halted due to insufficient manpower.
The most notable feature of the WDC project was the extraordinarily large effort it devoted to extracting a minimum of useful in formation. There is no indication that it uncovered evidence of criminal activity, much less espionage or sabotage. The entire project was based on dubious assumptions. The finding that 40% of adult Nisei had been to Japan at some time is important only if one accepts the assumption that those who went to Japan were potentially dangerous;  that there were 29,704 accounts of fixed deposits (similar to savings certificates) in Japanese banks is irrelevant unless fixed deposits are linked to security risk.  The connection WDC attempted to make between carefully researched material and security risk was simply not credible.
Nevertheless the WDC did not abandon its fundamental premise that individuals could be judged by the organizations and programs in which they participated. Rather, they concluded that more time and planning should be devoted to the task. The WDC urged that the military be better prepared for the next crisis and recommended, in its postwar analysis of the program,
The WDC did not flinch from the conclusion that they were urging abandonment in wartime of the normal protections of American constitutional government. In the view of the WDC, the review and control of civilians who presented some security question might well require other methods:
The WDC went the additional step of suggesting a citizen education program to condition the public to accept such deprivations of due process in a future war.
In essence, the WDC was willing to advocate military control of civilians in wartime unfettered by normal constitutional restraints. Having prejudged the loyalty of Japanese Americans on the flimsiest evidence, they also believed the United States should begin a continuing program of domestic intelligence-gathering to make judgments about which civilians should be "controlled" in future wars. The interests of state security would predominate over the civil liberties of suspect citizens, even if there were no basis for criminal charges against them. This would truly exalt military authority in war over every traditional protection of American government.
The Japanese American Joint Board
The JAJB, composed almost entirely of representatives of the military intelligence agencies, had tremendous difficulties from the start in administering the loyalty review. Indeed, in attacking the loyalty program, General DeWitt had pointed out one omission in planning symptomatic of JAJB's entire effort. If the Joint Board were presented with an individual on whom it had no information, asked DeWitt, would it presume loyalty and recommend release of that individual, or presume disloyalty and recommend continued confinement? 
Under normal circumstances, asking such a question about United States citizens would be absurd, but the question was important now. Whatever the original intent, the fact of exclusion and detention worked as a presumption against Nisei loyalty and innocence. If the Joint Board presumed innocence, then the government would be reversing its previous position, implicitly admitting that its earlier assumption of potential danger had been wrong. As DeWitt put it:
If, on the other hand, the Joint Board were to remain consistent and presume probable danger, the procedure would become unworkable. As DeWitt expressed it:
In fact, the problem was even more difficult than DeWitt thought. Proving loyalty would be impossible in any circumstances. Unlike proving disloyalty, which involves showing only one disloyal act, proving loyalty would require exploring a person's entire life to show the absence of disloyal acts. Undertaking such a task for even a small group, let alone tens of thousands, would be hopelessly expensive and time-consuming.
That the JAJB never answered this fundamental question speaks volumes about its effort. Rather than face the hard questions, it floundered, trying various systems to determine the "dangerousness" of each evacuee. A point system failed as did a system of assigning cases to individual members of the Board. Finally, an ever-changing system was adopted that would bring an adverse recommendation if any one of a number of "factors" were present. The "factors" included whether the person was Kibei; whether he refused to register; whether he was a leader in any organization controlled or dominated by aliens; and whether he had substantial fixed deposits in Japan.  By adopting this approach, the JAJB was spared having to find an illegal or even disloyal act as the basis of recommending continued confinement. Instead, individual characteristics and legal acts became cause for a finding of "dangerousness."
After about a year of making such determinations as well as doing its other work of clearing laborers for vital war plants (an equally uncertain venture), the JAJB was finally terminated. It had handled nearly 39,000 cases and made over 25,000 recommendations for leave clearance.  Of 12,600 recommendations against release, the WDC reported that the WRA ignored half and released the people anyway.  That no espionage or sabotage occurred among this group of over 6,000 released despite JAJB objection suggests the doubtful value of the JAJB's work. Clearly, it erred on the side of security, once again to the detriment of evacuees.
Compared to the WDC or the JAJB, the WRA pursued a liberal course, although its policies continued to compromise individual civil liberties. At the beginning of 1943 WRA policy was a two-step process: the evacuee needed both "leave clearance"which required a finding that he was not a danger to national securityand a "leave permit"which would be issued if WRA was satisfied with the resettlement arrangements he had made.  The policy's central disadvantage was the extended time it took to process individual evacuees.
With the results of the mass registration in hand, WRA moved to simplify and expedite the procedure. Rather than requiring clearance from Washington, it allowed project directors to grant leave to those considered unquestionably loyal.  In March 1943, a financial aid system was instituted. Although the grants were minimalabout $25.00 per person plus transportation costs, they did provide some assistance.  A leave clearance review was established in the summer of 1943 for those who had some adverse information in their file. Principally these were cases in which Question 28 had not been answered with an unqualified "yes;" where repatriation or expatriation had been asked, or there was an adverse report from an intelligence agency or the JAJB.  Using this system, 16,000 evacuees left the centers on indefinite leave during 1943 in addition to 5,000 seasonal farm workers and a number of students.  Not one case of espionage or sabotage was reported among these evacuees. 
In early 1944, two changes in leave regulations were made, again to encourage resettlement. Agricultural work leaves were restricted in order to encourage indefinite leaves. Indefinite leave for a four-month trial period was made available, with no return to centers allowed during that time. Return was permitted only during the two months following the initial four.  Before December 1944, 18,500 more evacuees left the centers on indefinite leave. 
Despite the government's cautious leave decisions, WRA continued to have political problems with relocation. In April, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia of New York objected to Under Secretary Fortas about the number of Japanese Americans who could come into the city. Fortas told LaGuardia that barring relocatees from New York would immediately become a nationwide issue and would be vigorously opposed by organizations throughout the country which were interested in humane, decent handling of these people. In addition, a prohibition would adversely affect the fate of American citizens, including New Yorkers, interned in Japan; it would also be used by the Japanese in anti-American racial propaganda.  LaGuardia raised the old cry to haunt every government resettlement effort since the exclusion decision: "If it was necessary to evacuate them from their homes originally and put them in a concentration camp, what justification is there for turning them loose in Eastern cities at this time? If Washington, Oregon, and California do not want them, what right has the Federal government in placing them in New York?" 
Continuing public hostility was reflected in WRA policies. In February 1944, Dillon Myer wrote the Attorney General explaining WRA's leave regulations; he stressed that the WRA had considered permitting people with leave clearance to leave the centers at any time, instead of requiring them to show some means of support and a good chance of community acceptance:
The Executive now hoped that the Supreme Court would kill the monster it had created.
Most evacuees found beginning a new life difficult; many were unenthusiastic about the prospect. A mid-1943 WRA survey gave the reasons: uncertainty about public reaction; lack of funds or information about conditions; fear of inability to support oneself and family; and fear of failing to find adequate housing.  Many had come to view the camps as refuges and would prefer to stay where their most basic needs would be supplied.  The young were most willing to leave. Seven of every ten individuals leaving the camps in 1943 and 1944 were between 15 and 35. Many were women. Those who came from the northwest were more willing to resettle than the Californians.  Those who left found that, while their experience was fundamentally peaceful, it was not without incident and hardship.  Some faced housing discrimination  and cramped quarters. 
In a few places, there were incidents. In New York City, for example, the establishment of a hostel in Brooklyn met local resistance that was eventually overcome.  May Ichida described her experience in Cleveland:
The WRA made some effort to help evacuees resettle, as did several church groups.  The WRA opened field offices in key eastern and midwestern cities designed to create community acceptance and find jobs that evacuees might fill. They worked with resettlement committees set up by concerned individuals and groups, particularly the churches.  By mid-1943, church groups were running hostels for short-term living space in four midwestern cities. 
Although the evacuees moved to many cities, particularly Denver and Salt Lake City,  Chicago became the center of resettlement. There was less discrimination there, integration into the larger Caucasian community was easier, and jobs were plentiful. As word of conditions in Chicago filtered back to the camps, the midwest became a favored area. When the exclusion ended, Chicago was the only resettlement community from which there was no mass exodus to the West Coast. 
The evacuees leaving in 1943 and 1944 took all manner of jobs. A few had enough capital to begin their own businesses,  although not all were successful.
Most went to work for others. Seabrook Farms in New Jersey, the largest single employer of ethnic Japanese, took 1,500 workers into farming and processing food.  Several evacuees recalled the long hours, camp-like conditions, and hostility from surrounding communities that marked Seabrook. 
Most who went to the larger cities were employed in industry, although white-collar work was also available.  Departing from pre-war patterns, most evacuees did not work in jobs serving the ethnic Japanese community. Following WRA advice, many resettlers avoided associating exclusively with each other, working instead to become integrated into the larger communities. 
The loyalty program was partly responsible for allowing many to leave the camps and resettle in the interior. For the many more left in camp, the questionnaire was less benign. Now it would become a tool to distinguish the loyal from the disloyal before moving all the disloyal to Tule Lake.
The idea of separating evacuees into groups arose almost at once after evacuation. The WDC, still protesting that it wanted nothing further to do with the evacuees, interfered again. By August 1942, General DeWitt was convinced that Nisei should be separated from Kibei and advocated stripping the Kibei of their citizenship, interning and expatriating them (along with the Issei) to Japan as rapidly as possible.  DeWitt pressed his point with Chief of Staff Marshall in four letters from September 8 through November 23; the Kibei were subverting otherwise loyal Nisei and should be segregated.  By the end of October, McCloy had come to believe the idea was worth considering,  and in November he wrote both DeWitt and WRA that he too favored segregation,  although he was unwilling to impose his view on WRA.
By mid-December, DeWitt had developed a plan for the segregation. In extraordinary detail, his plan envisioned a surprise move in which designated evacuees would be gathered, put aboard trains and moved to the Poston camp, where evacuees not to be segregated would then be removed. The people to be segregated would include those who wished repatriation; parolees from detention or internment camps; those with "bad" records during their confinement in assembly centers or relocation camps; others whom the intelligence services thought dangerous; and immediate families of segregants. The plan anticipated about 5,600 segregants. 
As the War Department view of segregation evolved, WRA was also considering the idea. WRA objected to DeWitt's early proposals because they suggested segregating by category. As Myer explained it:
WRA rejected the December plan for different reasons. It called for secrecy, military control, cancellation of normal activities, and it raised the probability of rioting and bloodshedall entirely at odds with the semblance of normality that WRA hoped to achieve.  Three steps already under way would, WRA hoped, eliminate a need to segregate: the indefinite leave program; Justice Department custody for aliens whom WRA believed should be interned; and an isolation center at Leupp for troublemakers. 
During Spring 1943, however, pressure grew to segregate. Senator Chandler's Senate Committee recommended segregation, which McCloy publicly (and Secretary Stimson privately) endorsed. The JACL favored it, and in May WRA project directors unanimously approved segregation.  Remarking that he still felt relocation was "the only civilized way" of separating the evacuees, Myer finally agreed. 
Tule Lake was chosen as the segregation center because it was a large facility and already housed many potential segregants. Five groups would be segregated:
On July 15, 1943, the WRA announced the policy of segregating persons who "by their acts have indicated that their loyalties lie with Japan during the present hostilities or that their loyalties do not lie with the United States." 
Next came a series of rehearings for individuals selected because of a "wrong" loyalty answer. Despite the consequences, most evacuees stuck by their original statements and the rehearing process registered mostly grief, disappointment and anger. Numerous Issei professed "disloyalty" as a way of getting back to California or of avoiding release. Many Kibei chose Tule Lake out of frustration with official distrust of their group. Others had no choice; they were family memberselderly, children or handicappedwho could not leave their relatives. A number of evacuees already at Tule Lake embraced disloyalty to avoid moving again. 
Between mid-September and mid-October, thirty-three trips transferred 6,289 people from Tule Lake and 8,559 to Tule Lake from other centers; later transfers moved 249 more residents out and 3,614 additional segregants in. Six thousand old Tuleans stayed. Meanwhile, Tule Lake was being transformed. A double eight-foot fence was erected, the guard increased to a battalion, and six tanks lined up conspicuously. 
Tule Lake now had a more diverse population than any other center. People had come from all over California, Hawaii, Washington and Oregon. They were disproportionately rural people and unmarried farm laborers.  Of 18,422 evacuees at Tule Lake between September 1943 and May 1944, 68 percent were citizens. Most were there because they had requested repatriation or expatriation (39 percent), answered the loyalty questionnaire unsatisfactorily (26 percent) or were family of someone who was segregated (31 percent). 
The arriving group immediately found themselves at a disadvantage. There was not enough housing, so segregants were squeezed into quarters that did not give them even the usual small space, or they occupied makeshift dormitories in recreation halls. Improvements by former occupants were gone, for they had taken most of their handiwork on leaving. Remaining furniture and shelves had been appropriated by other residents before the segregants arrived; even plasterboard and wood had been ripped from the walls to make crates. The "old Tuleans" had taken all the best jobs, too. Finally, many transferees found the facilities, the food and the environment inferior to their "home" projects. 
Tule Lake's population and restrictive policies guaranteed conflict there. The first incident was a labor dispute when on October 7 the administration fired 43 coal workers. No one would take the vacant positions. On October 12, the administration reinstated the workers and made other concessions. Three days later an accident touched off a strike when a truck carrying a work crew to the project farm overturned, killing one worker and injuring several. Dissident leaders used the incident to begin a strike of agricultural workers for more safety precautions. The next week a committee presented demands to the project director including a demand for "resegregation"separating those who preferred the Japanese way of life from those at Tule Lake for other reasons. The committee also requested physical improvements and staff changes. The work stoppage among the farm workers was not resolved. On October 28, the administration announced it was firing the farm employees and bringing in a group of "loyal" evacuees from other camps. Compounding the insult, food from evacuee warehouses was requisitioned to feed the new farm workers. 
On November 1, while Myer was visiting the camp, a large group gathered and the committee demanded to talk to him. During their discussion, another group of evacuees had visited the hospital and ended up beating the chief medical officer. Eventually, Myer addressed the full group and the gathering dispersed. 
Several days later, on November 4, the explosion came. A gang moved into the administrative area to prevent the removal of food for volunteer farm workers from other centers. They fought with the internal security force and a staff member was injured. When the rioters moved toward the project director's house, the military guard was called in. 
Tokio Yamane described this incident from an evacuee's point of view:
Leaders of the demonstration were isolated in a detention center that became known as "the stockade." 
The Army retained control of Tule Lake until January 15, 1944. The period was one of "turmoil, idleness, impoverishment, and uncertainty." 
The partial strike continued and the stockade's population grew. Although there were no more major outbursts, the distinction sharpened between "loyal and disloyal," and suspicion of collaborators and informers flourished.
The loyalty program pushed evacuees in opposite directions. Some had been released and were heading toward a more normal, productive life. To those who expressed their anger and frustration, however, the loyalty program brought a more repressive, violent and frustrating period at Tule Lake. The loyalty program is rightly remembered as one of the most divisive events in the camp. It broke apart the community of evacuees by forcing each to a clear choicea choice that could be made only by guesswork about a very uncertain future. It was a choice that was hard to hedge, and it divided families and friends philosophically, emotionally and, finally, physically, as some went east to make new lives and others were taken off to the grimmer confinement of Tule Lake.