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JACL: Executive Order Continues Inhumane Treatment of Children

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order reversing his policy of separating children from their undocumented migrant parents at the Southwestern border — after blaming the situation on Democrats and claiming that there was nothing he could do about it.

The Japanese American Citizens League said in a statement on Thursday:

“Earlier this week, in opposition to the family separations, George Takei stated, ‘At least during the internment of Japanese Americans, I and other children were not stripped from our parents.’ It is clear this statement was not condoning the continued imprisonment of migrant children as long as their parents could be with them; however, that seems to be how the administration has responded with the executive order issued yesterday.

“The administration’s new policy to hold families indefinitely in violation of the Flores Settlement Agreement is morally no better than the policy of separation. The very foundation of the Flores settlement is that it is universally agreed that children should not be imprisoned. This is a fundamental human value.

“For many years the policy of supervised release of asylum seeking families has worked. These families who seek asylum in our country should not be treated as criminals and imprisoned indefinitely without conviction. Families seeking asylum and currently incarcerated must be reunified and released with appropriate supervision and monitoring.

“Many of these children already come from traumatized backgrounds, which is why many of their parents seek asylum in this country. Our country should not be adding to their trauma. We know all too well that mass incarceration was done to Japanese American families and the scars that have now been carried on for generations. We must stop repeating the mistakes of our past.

“In Japanese there is a phrase, kodomo no tame ni, which means ‘for the sake of the children.’ It is our hope that perhaps our country might be able to take this phrase to heart and truly act for the sake of the children.”

In a previous statement on Tuesday, the JACL condemned the administration’s immigration policies as well as Republican legislative proposals to address the issue:

“JACL’s fundamental purpose is to ensure Americans remain mindful of the civil rights errors of our past, that the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans serves as a glaring example of what should never happen again. Unfortunately, our government has once again established concentration camps, only this time to imprison children who have been separated from their parents who have come to our country, often seeking asylum.

“The speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, suggested last week that his proposed immigration bill might offer a legislative solution to put an end to the separation of children from their parents. Unfortunately, the proposed bill would do more harm to our nation’s immigration system, decimating avenues for legal immigration long used by Asian American and Pacific Islander families.

“More complicated, less inclusive bills are not the answer we need; a true solution, such as the clean and simple Keeping Families Together Act, should be able to pass on its own merit.

“There are now approximately 2,000 children incarcerated at the border without the comfort of their parents. Health care providers, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and pediatricians, as well as faith leaders, are universally opposed to these inhumane and immoral practices because of the likely long-lasting damage to these children.

“Today, with 75 years of experience behind us, we have seen the effects of incarceration on Japanese American families. Some families were separated when a parent was identified as disloyal without trial or conviction, and sent to prison camps just as today’s immigrants are being imprisoned automatically at the border.

“Even for the families that remained together, the scars inflicted by the experience of mass incarceration were deep. Post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health effects of trauma, leading to anxiety, depression, or even suicide, were not uncommon in adults and children who experienced the camps. The impact of the camps further extended to and deeply affected the children of the incarcerees.

“This was the legacy of the camps that challenged our community for many years, and still does today. And this is why so many of us stand today in opposition to this practice of separating children from their parents, cognizant of the long-term damage that is being done now and upon generations to come.

“The trauma that our country is inflicting upon these children must end now.”

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