On-line Book
Book Cover
Cover Page


Table of Contents





Brief History

Gila River


Heart Mountain







Tule Lake

Isolation Centers

Add'l Facilities

Assembly Centers

DoJ and
US Army Facilities



Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Confinement and Ethnicity:
Barbed wire divider
An Overview of World War II
Japanese American Relocation Sites

by J. Burton, M. Farrell, F. Lord, and R. Lord

clip art

Chapter 17 (continued)
Department of Justice and U.S. Army Facilities

Temporary Detention Stations

Air view of Ellis Island, 1993
Figure 17.1. Air view of Ellis Island, 1993.
(California Museum of Photography, University of California, Riverside)
The Issei who were apprehended by the FBI as soon as the U.S. entered the war were first held at various "temporary" locations prior to being sent to more permanent facilities. The temporary detention stations were located at Angel Island, San Pedro, Sharp Park, and Tuna Canyon in California, and Ellis Island, New York, East Boston, Massachusetts, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Seattle, Washington (Weglyn 1976). The two most prominent locations were the immigration stations at Ellis Island and Angel Island.

Ellis Island, a mostly artificial island of about 27 acres in Upper New York Bay, has been government property since 1808. Between 1892 and 1941 it served as the chief entry station for immigrants to the United States. During World War II it was used as a detention center to hold enemy aliens awaiting hearings. In December 1941 Ellis Island held 279 Japanese, 248 Germans, and 81 Italians, all removed from the East Coast (Figure 17.1). Thereafter several hundred detainees, mostly German and Italian nationals, were brought to Ellis Island each month. Most were transferred or released within 1 to 4 months, however some were held for up to 2 years. In February 1944 there were only three Japanese Americans still being held there and in June 1944 only one Japanese American (Jacobs 1997). The immigration center is now run as a museum by the National Park Service.

Detainee barracks at the Angel Island Immigration Station
Figure 17.2. Detainee barracks at the Angel Island Immigration Station.
(Angel Island Foundation)
The Angel Island immigration station is known as the "Ellis Island of the West." The 740-acre island is in the western part of San Francisco Bay. The immigration station, on the north side of the island, was opened in 1910 to handle an expected flood of European immigrants after the opening of the Panama Canal (Figure 17.2). Instead, the vast majority of immigrants were from Asia, including 175,000 Chinese and 100,000 Japanese. The immigration station was closed in 1940 after the administration building burned down. The property was then turned over to the U.S. Army, which used it as a POW processing center. For a short time one of the barracks at the facility was used to house enemy aliens. Buildings remaining at the site today include a detention barracks, two military barracks, a guard tower, a hospital building, and the power plant. Today a museum is located in the detention barracks. It includes a re-creation of one of the dormitories featuring some of the many poems carved into the walls by Chinese immigrants. The second floor of the barracks has several inscriptions written by Japanese and German POWs (Quan 1999).

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Last Modified: Fri, Sep 1 2000 07:08:48 pm PDT

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