WWII Incarceration

World War II Incarceration: 1939

President Franklin Roosevelt authorizes the FBI to compile a “Custodial Detention” list comprised of “potentially dangerous” individuals to be detained or placed under surveillance in the event of war.

World War II Incarceration: Nov. 1941

Secret “Munson Report” circulated among federal officials, including President Roosevelt. The report states that Japanese Americans are loyal to the U.S. and do not pose a security threat.

World War II Incarceration: Dec. 7, 1941

Home SearchHome SearchJapan attacks Pearl Harbor.

President Roosevelt signs an emergency proclamation authorizing the Justice Department to arrest Japanese, German, and Italian aliens. That same day, FBI agents begin arresting men and sending them to Department of Justice camps for indefinite detention.

World War II Incarceration: Dec. 15, 1941

With no evidence to back the claim, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox tells reporters that “The most effective fifth column work of the entire war was done in Hawaii.”

World War II Incarceration: Jan. 25, 1942

Military designates the coastal area of California off-limits to all “enemy aliens.” Four days later, the Attorney General announces that all “enemy aliens” in the area must move within a month.

World War II Incarceration: 1942

At the prodding of the United States, fourteen Latin American countries begin deporting thousands of Japanese, German, and Italian nationals and their children to the U.S. where they are incarcerated for potential use in prisoner exchanges.

World War II Incarceration: Jan. 27, 1942

Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt, head of the Western Defense Command, meets with California governor Culbert Olsen, who joins California Attorney General Earl Warren and Los Angeles Mayor Fletcher Bowron, in calling for the removal of all Japanese Americans from the state.

World War II Incarceration: Feb. 1942

President Roosevelt issues Executive Order 9066, which authorizes the military to declare “military areas” from which all people can be excluded. 

Congress passes Public Law 503 criminalizing violations of Executive Order 9066.

Coast Guard bans all “enemy aliens” from fishing in bay and coastal waters.  The order disproportionately impacts Italian immigrants.

U.S. Attorney General orders all “enemy aliens” to register at local post offices and obtain a “Certificate of Identification,” an identification booklet that must be carried at all times.  They are also forbidden to travel five miles from their homes.

The City of Los Angeles dismisses all Japanese American employees.

Government orders all Japanese Americans living on Terminal Island near the Port of Los Angeles to leave their homes with 48 hours.

Race, World War II Incarceration: March 1942

Boys WaitingBoys WaitingGeneral John L. DeWitt announces “Military Area 1” covering the western parts of California, Oregon and Washington, and the southern part of Arizona.  He orders all Japanese Americans to leave the area.

Mess HallMess HallThe Wartime Civil Control Administration constructs 16 “assembly centers,” 12 of which were in California. These hastily constructed camps in race tracks, livestock pavilions, and fair grounds temporarily house Japanese Americans until more permanent camps are built.

ManzanarManzanarRoosevelt administration creates the War Relocation Authority (WRA) to administer 10 long-term camps in California, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, and Arkansas. The two California camps are Manzanar, in the Owens Valley, and Tule Lake, in Modoc County.

General DeWitt orders an 8pm to 6am curfew on all people of Japanese ancestry and all German and Italian aliens in Military Area 1.

Portland, Oregon attorney Minoru Yasui walks into a police station during curfew hours so that he can be arrested and bring a test case challenging the curfew.

World War II Incarceration: April 1942

California State Personnel Board dismisses all Japanese American employees.

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