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Japanese Americans See Parallels Between New Immigration Policies And WWII Incarceration

“It happened to us, it’s happening now!” Chicago Japanese-Americans see echoes of their own community history in current immigration policies.

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Katherine Nagasawa

From the ban on immigrants from majority Muslim countries to the separation and detention of families at the southern border, President Trump’s immigration policies have been hotly debated. Many have compared the current migrant detention centers and family separation to the U.S. government’s incarceration of about 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.

Last Saturday, Chicago Japanese Americans marched in the Families Belong Together rally to protest migrant family separation and detention.

“We want to project our story from our lens and tell people what the true lessons of incarceration for Japanese Americans were,” said Ryan Yokota of the Japanese American Service Committee, a nonprofit that leads programming around Japanese American history and culture. “We’re hoping to be part of a resurgence of Japanese American and Asian American voices around these issues.”

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Katherine Nagasawa is the multimedia producer for Curious City. You can contact her at

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