The Supreme Court officially overturned the wrongful 1944 ruling on Korematsu vs. the US this week (Tuesday, June 26, 2018), but cleared the way for an ethnically based Travel Ban which hints of 1882 and the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Justice John Roberts acknowledges the wrongful use of concentration camps to imprison US citizens on the basis of race and officially overturns the offending law with the following phrase:
“Whatever rhetorical advantage the dissent may see in doing so, Korematsu has nothing to do with this case. The forcible relocation of U.S. citizens to concentration camps, solely and explicitly on the basis of race, is objectively unlawful and outside the scope of Presidential authority,” Roberts wrote. “But it is wholly inapt to liken that morally repugnant order to a facially neutral policy denying certain foreign nationals the privilege of admission.”
Here’s the complete story.
While it corrected a 74-year-old wrong, it replaced one long held injustice with another by legalizing the use of a travel ban on an entire ethnic group or country, echoing the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The passage of that law would usher in a host of exclusionist laws targeting people of Chinese ancestry in this country, then Japanese immigrants and their children and eventually to all Asians in general. While most laws have been repealed or been canceled out by other laws, the fact that Korematsu remained technically on the books until this past Tuesday means discriminatory actions taken against Asian peoples have been not just accepted but ambiguously legal for over 130 years. This is probably why the Asian American experience is seldom included in discussions about the history of American Jurisprudence because it was legal.
I was recently invited to participate on a panel discussion on WAMC—my local NPR Station—about immigration, to ask the question which is at the heart of my project…Who is an American? And what does citizenship mean? While that question and its answer may be clear for some in the eyes of the US government, it has not always been so straightforward for folks who looked like me and my family.
On another related note, documentary filmmaker Vivienne Shiffer, who grew up in the community adjacent to one of the two concentration camps located in Arkansas and produced the film, Relocation, Arkansas, the Aftermath of the Incarceration, sent me this report from the Arkansas Times:
[One clarification that needs to be made—this proposed site is not 5 miles from the Rohwer Camp site: it is not only adjacent to it, 160 acres of the proposed site is land that actually comprised part of the Rohwer Camp.]
Proposed child holding site in Arkansas 5 miles from WWII Japanese-American internment camp
Posted By Benjamin Hardy on Thu, Jun 21, 2018 at 2:39 PM
THV 11 reports that the Trump administration is considering a piece of property in the unincorporated Desha County community of Kelso in its search for sites to house immigrant children forcibly separated from their parents at the border. Kelso is about a five-minute drive away from the Rohwer internment camp at which over 8,000 Japanese-Americans — many of them children — were held captive by their own government during World War II.
Here’s the link to the rest of the article.
Hope you find it interesting!
My Yellow Bowl Project hopes to spur discussion around these questions: Who is an American? What does citizenship mean? How long do you have to be in the US to be considered a bonafide member of this group?