A Democratic lawmaker is calling on President-elect Donald Trump to denounce a surrogate who approvingly cited the mass internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II as “precedent” for a registry of Muslim immigrants.
“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. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) said in a statement Thursday.
“I am horrified that people connected to the incoming administration are using my family’s experience as a precedent for what President-elect Donald Trump could do,” added Takano, who supported Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.“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.”
A supporter of Trump’s on Wednesday cited the Japanese-American internment camps as precedent for the Republican president-elect’s rumored registry of Muslim immigrants.
“It is legal; they say it will hold constitutional muster,” Carl Higbie, a former Navy SEAL, said on Fox News. “I know the [American Civil Liberties Union] is going to challenge it, but I think it will pass.
“And we’ve done with Iran — back a while ago, we did it during World War II with Japanese, which, call it what you will, it may be wrong,” he added as Fox News host Megyn Kelly interjected.
Kelly then admonished Higbie’s comparison, saying he knew “better to suggest that” example to viewers.
“I’m just saying there’s precedent for it, I’m not saying I agree with it, but in this case I absolutely believe,” he began before Kelly briefly cut him off again.
“Look, the president needs to protect America first, and if that means having people that are not protected under our Constitution have sort of registry so we can understand — until we can identify the true threat and where it’s coming from, I support it,” he concluded.
Other Democrats joined Takano in criticizing those remarks.
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) called the remarks “outrageous, unacceptable and reckless” in a statement.
“The unjust internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was a painful period during our history, but we have taken great strides as a country to heal those wounds and move forward.”
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, on Thursday said both internment camps and registering Muslims violate basic American values.
“Any proposal to force American Muslims to register with the federal government, and to use Japanese imprisonment during World War II as a precedent, is abhorrent and has no place in our society,” she said in a statement.
The ACLU said Thursday that it would pursue legal action against the Trump administration if it violated Muslim Americans’ civil rights.
“If the Trump administration proceeds to discriminate against our Muslim neighbors, families, and friends, we will sue,” Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project, said in a statement.
Mark Hensch, The Hill, November 17, 2016