The Final Push for Redress


    The final episode in the campaign for justice presently focuses on the Latin American Japanese, who were kidnapped from their homes in their native countries, and brought to the United States as hostages to exchange for diplomats and prisoners of war held by Japan.


    Throughout the early 1980s, the Japanese Latin Americans sought an administrative remedy by the U.S. government.  Having exhausted all other avenues, in August of 1996, they filed a class-action lawsuit against the government to seek inclusion in the 1988 Civil Liberties Act.  Hundred of Japanese Latin Americans applied for redress, believing that their suffering would be redressed by an apology from the US. government.  They were denied redress on the basis that they were not U.S. citizens or permanent residents at the time of internment.  The case is awaiting a hearing in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.


    Railroad and mine workers who were summarily fired from their jobs in February 1942 at the urging of the U.S. government were also seeking redress.  The US.government contended that the firings were made by private companies, and the government bears no responsibility for losses of liberty and property suffered by these workers.  On February 27, 1998, Bill Lam Lee, acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Department of Justice announced that the railroad and mine workers were entitled to redress and that historical research conducted by community groups had provided evidence that the U.S. government pressured the companies to fire and evict their long-time employees.  There are some individuals born in the interior who remain ineligible for redress despite the court decision.  This is because the Office of Redress Administration (ORA), Department of Justice, has interpreted the law to include birth dates up to and including January 20, 1945.  This decision was made despite arguments by community members and organizations that the ward did not end until August, and some camps did not close until late 1948.

 

Japanese Latin Americans en route to U.S. concentration camps.

Court Cases Revisited