1942 March 21

Congress Enforces Japanese-American Evacuation, Makes it a Crime to Leave a Relocation Center


Congress on this day passed Public Law 503, implementing President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, issued on February 19, 1942, which authorized the military to remove people from the West Coast. The president’s Order resulted in the evacuation and internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans, an event that is generally regarded as one of the greatest civil liberties tragedies in American history. Public Law 503 enforced the government’s program by making it a federal crime to violate any military regulation under the president’s order. This included leaving a Relocation Center, thereby effectively converting them into concentration camps.

Read the text of the law: http://www.internmentarchives.com/showdoc.php?docid=00104&search_id=9609

Learn more about the Japanese-American tragedy, Greg Robinson, By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans (2001)

Watch a Government Film on the “Relocation”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdEcZFHehuk

Read a first-hand account of the evacuation and internment: Jeanne Wakatsuki Huston and James D. Houston, Farewell to Manzanar (2002)

Watch an interview with Jeanne Wakatsuki Huston: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDDFw5TGkJo

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