Commentary: ‘Never again’ is happening again at Fort Sill

We are the sons, daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends of Americans of Japanese ancestry who, during World War II, were forcibly removed from their homes and placed in camps around the country, an act that deprived our family members of their freedom, rights, privacy, property, dignity and, in many cases, their health.

Some of us were children at the time, and we watched what the incarceration of our families and 120,000 Japanese Americans did to an entire community. We live with its effects every day.

This experience is why we are so particularly aggrieved by the Trump administration’s recent decision to use a former site where Japanese Americans were imprisoned without due process as a detention center for innocent Latin American children, who have been separated from their families.

Fort Sill, Okla., served as a detention site for nearly 700 individuals of Japanese descent who were rounded up and imprisoned by the FBI shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. All were accused of sympathizing with or aiding Japan in the war, but none had any evidence of their disloyalty presented against them. They were simply influential people in a community that looked like the enemy, and that was reason enough for their detention. Like today, manufactured stereotypes were the root of the unjust trauma forced upon our ancestors 75 years ago.

The migrant children bound for Fort Sill did nothing wrong, just as the Japanese Americans did nothing to deserve their detention. They are simply the victims of an unreasoned fear of Latin American migrants fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries. Their punitive treatment amounts to nothing less than a repeat of the racism that caused immeasurable hardship on our families more than 75 years ago.

As we contemplate our history, we at the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation fear that “Never Again” is now. Please join us in fighting to stop this tragic repeat of a wrong.

Submitted by the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation Board of Directors. Shirley Ann Higuchi, Washington, D.C.; Kris M. Horiuchi, Falmouth, Mass.; Takashi Hoshizaki, Los Angeles, Calif.; Julia Ishiyama, Boulder, Colo.; Darrell Kunitomi, Los Angeles, Calif.; Sam Mihara, Huntington Beach, Calif.; Allyson Nakamoto, Honolulu, Hawaii; Douglas W. Nelson, Blanchardville, Wis.; Aura Matsumura Newlin, Cody, Wyo.; R. Dana Ono, Concord, Mass.; Eric Sandeen, Laramie, Wyo.; Peter K. Simpson, Cody, Wyo.; Marc Sugiyama, San Francisco, Calif.; Prentiss Uchida, Moorpark, Calif.; Claudia Wade, Cody, Wyo.; Hanako Wakatsuki, Twin Falls, Idaho; Shig Yabu, Camarillo, Calif.; Kathleen Saito Yuille, Milwaukee, Wis.; LaDonna Zall, Ralston, Wyo.

The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation is a public, nonprofit corporation that runs an interpretive center on the site of one of the 10 prison camps that held Japanese Americans during World War II. The bulk of its board members are former prisoners, their children or grandchildren. For more information, go to www.heartmountain.org. Follow on Twitter: @HeartMountainWY Facebook: @heartmountainwy