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Contact: Elizabeth Tucker, 510-232-5050 Ext. 0
(Richmond, California) –An attack on America inspires fear, fury and calls for retaliation run rampant. The time is not September 11, 2001, but December 7, 1941, when the United States entered World War II (WWII). Over 70 years ago, thousands of German, Italian and Japanese immigrants in the U.S. and Latin America experienced arrest, forced relocation, internment, and even deportation to war zones because of their nationalities. What can we learn from our past as the U.S. government continues its attempts to balance national security concerns with the protection of individual liberties?
On Saturday, September 12th at 11:00 AM, Rosie The Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park will host the first program in a 3-part series uncovering the treatment of "enemy alien" immigrants in the U.S. and Latin America by the U.S. government during WWII. Focusing on "The WWII Enemy Alien Program and Lessons for Today", program speakers include:
* Lawrence DiStasi, past president of the American Italian Historical Association/Western Regional Chapter;Project Director of Una Storia Segreta: When Italian Americans Were "Enemy Aliens" exhibit;and author of Una Storia Segreta: Essays on the WWII Internment and Evacuation of Italian Americans (2001)
* John Christgau, author of numerous books, short stories and articles, including ENEMIES: WWII Alien Internment, the first book published about the highly secret WWII alien enemy internment program (1985, 2010);and frequent guest lecturer to professional and educational groups.
* Grace Shimizu, director of the Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project and the Campaign For Justice: Redress NOW for Japanese Latin Americans!, and coordinator of the Enemy Alien Files Consortium.
This first program will explore how wartime fears, anti-immigrant attitudes and racism affected men, women and children against whom no charges of wrong-doing were ever brought. Throughout the 1930s, as turmoil in Europe and Asia escalated, the U.S. government prepared for the possibility of U.S. involvement in war. Preparations included surveillance of German, Japanese and Italian immigrants--both in the U.S. and Latin America, compiling lists of "potentially dangerous persons," alien registration, and planning for internment and deportation.
On the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, FBI and INS agents began arresting aliens, many thousands of whom were interned for up to seven years. The U.S. government also went outside its borders to bring more than 6,000 German, Japanese and Italian residents of Latin America to internment camps all over the United States. Many of these internees were deported to war-torn countries in hostage exchanges for U.S. citizens trapped abroad.
Many of the actions taken during WWII, including the mass incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans (of whom two-thirds were U.S. citizens), were based on presidential Executive Orders, bypassing Congress and the Constitution. Since the Afghanistan/Iraq War and even before 911, Muslims and people of Middle Eastern and South Asian ancestry have struggled against stereotypes based on their national origin or religion. Their civil rights are still at risk as the government attempts to balance legitimate national security concerns with the protection of individual liberties. This nation has grappled with these issues before. What can we learn from the hidden WWII experiences of "enemy aliens"?
Sept. 12, 2015: "The WWII Enemy Alien Program &Lessons for Today"
Oct. 24, 2015: "German, Italian and Japanese Immigrants in the U.S. &the WWII Enemy Alien Program"
Nov. 14, 2015: "U.S. Rendition of Japanese, Germans &Italians from Latin America During WWII"
Space is limited and reservations are required for this program. Please call 510-232-5050 x0 and leave a message with your name and phone number, and specify the date of the program you would like to attend.
The Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center is open seven days a week from 10 AM to 5 PM and is located at 1414 Harbour Way South, Suite 3000, Richmond, CA 94804. For more information and directions to the Visitor Education Center, please call (510) 232-5050 x0 or visit https://www.nps.gov/rori/
If you would like to receive information about upcoming park events, please visit www.rosietheriveter.organd sign up for the email newsletter. The Rosie the Riveter Trust is the non-profit association that is building a community of support for this national park.