WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chairwoman Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), CPC Vice Chair Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), and CPC Vice Chair Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) made the following statements today after a Trump surrogate, Carl Higbie, suggested Japanese-American internment camps could serve as a precedent for the creation of a Muslim registry.
“Since Donald Trump was elected president, thousands of Americans have voiced fears over what our country might look like in the coming years. Last night one of the President-elect’s surrogates showed us why so many people are afraid of a Trump administration,” Rep. Ellison said. “The internment of over 100,000 Americans of Japanese descent is one of the darkest marks on our nation’s history. Placing citizens in what amounted to concentration camps, is something we should expect from autocracies, dictatorships, and fascist regimes – not the United States. The fact that our incoming President has considered internment as a model for how to move forward with the Muslim community is absolutely shocking. We can’t allow it to be normalized or enacted. The President-elect has said on numerous occasions he wants to be the president of all Americans. He clearly is only interested in representing some of us. If Donald Trump moves forward with the racist and divisive policies his team have been advocating for, we will be the first ones to stand up to him. We will be the first ones to tell him ‘no.’”
“For the millions of Americans in our minority communities, our immigrant communities, our LGBT community, and for countless others who all share in the fear of what the next four years will bring, the insinuation by a Trump surrogate that Japanese internment during World War 2 sets a precedent for the incoming administration to create a registry of Muslims is a validation of our worst concerns,” Rep. Grijalva said. “Unfortunately, transition team leader Kris Kobach set a tone that is clearly being mimicked by junior Trump surrogates. Not only does this statement confirm Trump’s intent to track and target minorities with the full force of the federal government, but it also shows every American exactly where this crowd draws their inspiration from. It took our nation decades to own up to the stain of Japanese internment, providing compensation to more than 100,000 people who suffered through it and formally apologizing through the Civil Liberties Act in 1988. To say this heinous treatment should be precedent for any policy is horrific, and Mr. Trump should denounce it immediately.”
“Any proposal to force American Muslims to register with the federal government, and to use Japanese imprisonment during World War II as precedent, is abhorrent and has no place in our society,” Rep. Chu said. “These ideas are based on tactics of fear, division, and hate that we must condemn. The incarceration of innocent Japanese Americans due to wartime hysteria and racism was a dark chapter in our nation’s history which led to civil rights violations so unconscionable that Congress later apologized for it. Like Japanese incarceration, imposing a registry upon American Muslims is not only unconstitutional, but it goes against our very principles as a nation. We will remain vigilant and push back against the creation of any such registry, and implore the President-elect to recognize the basic civil and constitutional rights of all Americans.”
“These remarks are beyond disturbing. This is fear, not courage. This is hate, not policy,” Rep. Honda said. “President Reagan, himself, called our internment a “failure of political leadership.” This does not make America great but would take us back to the bigotry of the 1940s. The Trump administration is showing they have not learned from our history when they suggest we go back to one of its darkest chapters. No one should go through what my family and 120,000 innocent people suffered regardless of their race or religion or any other way they would choose to try and divide us. I fought such divisive practices after 9/11 to ensure Muslims would not be unfairly targeted just as we were. Now today, I tell Mr. Trump that to reenact a policy fueled by prejudice is uncivilized, un-American and unworthy of a president sworn to uphold our Constitution.”
“The imprisonment of thousands of Japanese-Americans during World War II, including my parents and grandparents, is widely understood to be one of the darkest chapters in American history,” Rep. Takano said. “I am horrified that people connected to the incoming Administration are using my family’s experience as a precedent for what President-elect Trump could do. These comments confirm many Americans’ worst fears about the Trump Administration, and they reflect an alarming resurgence of racism and xenophobia in our political discourse. I call on the President-elect to immediately disavow these comments and begin the work of healing our nation’s divides.”
The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is the largest caucus within the House Democratic Caucus, with over 70 members standing up for progressive ideals in Washington and throughout the country. Since 1991, the CPC has advocated for progressive policies that prioritize working Americans over corporate interests, fight economic and social inequality, and promote civil liberties. The CPC champions progressive policy solutions like comprehensive immigration reform, a $15 national minimum wage, fair trade, gun violence reform, debt-free college, and making the federal government a Model Employer.