The following is my first of three articles to inform the readers why the need to repeal the Alien Enemy Act of 1798 and the need for JACL to take the lead in order to revitalize our community specifically and this country’s need to regain its courage to protect our Constitutional principles through JACL leadership.
JACL WAS THE FIRST RECOGNIZED CIVIL RIGHTS ORGANIZATION [TO SECURE FROM THE] GOVERNMENT AN UNAMBIGUOUS, UNEQUIVOCAL APOLOGY AND REPARATION FOR CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS TO 120,000 CITIZENS AND LEGAL PERMANENT RESIDENTS OF JAPANESE ANCESTRY.
In 1976, 200 years after the Declaration of Independence, during the National JACL Convention held in Sacramento, Calif., Dr. Edison Uno and five young adult JACLers argued and after a vigorous debate succeeded in persuading the National Council to place the issue of redress and reparation on the next Biennium to be held in Chicago in 1978.
The rest is history.
Congress passed HR 442, and President Ronald Reagan signed it into law on Aug. 10, 1988, ending a 10-year sociopolitical legislative battle, chock-full of lessons yet to be told. The Nikkei community was never the same since.
The redress movement secured JACL a permanent forefront place in the civil rights movement. JACL is the only civil rights organization to ever fight for and secure an apology and reparation from the U.S. government for abridging the civil rights of 120,000 citizens and permanent residents of Japanese ancestry.
Today, governments and politicians continue to target, for political purposes, emerging communities, immigrants — documented and undocumented alike — claiming necessity for the protection of our way of life and national security. They continuously persist on victimizing the helpless, the powerless, the voiceless.
The next article will discuss how in spite of HR442, why attacks continue to occur, scapegoating individuals/groups, taking advantage of racial prejudices, war hysteria and abusing political power.
JACL has the experience and track record to address this dilemma permanently and make our democracy work, attractive to those who aspire to enjoy the fruits of a nation struggling to be a MORE PERFECT UNION.
Congressman Mike Honda