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Alien Land Laws and Internment Asian Americans and the Law Dr. Steiner.

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Presentation on theme: "Alien Land Laws and Internment Asian Americans and the Law Dr. Steiner."— Presentation transcript:

1 Alien Land Laws and Internment Asian Americans and the Law Dr. Steiner

2  Despite the vocal and universal opposition from the many residents of the road, the [Jefferson County Commissioners] voted unanimously to change the name. After the vote, Judge Griffith and Jodi Bernstein suggested a historical marker which would honor Yoshino Mayumi and his family.  The Commissioners assigned Wayne Wright and Earl Callahan, leaders of the opposition, to head a committee of fellow Jap Road residents to suggest a new road name by July 29 th [2004]. To the disappointment of many, 65% of the residents decided to go with the name Boondocks which was a popular local catfish restaurant which closed 10 years ago. This name was suggested to the Fannett residents by Wayne Wright. The Commissioners formally voted to rename JAP Road to Boondocks Road on August 2 nd Japanese American Veteran’s Association website

3 Japanese Immigration  In 1880, 150 Japanese in U.S.  In 1885, Japanese government legalized emigration  In 1898, there were 2000 Japanese in U.S.  In 1900, there were 12,000 Japanese in U.S.  By 1901, California governor is discussing the “Japanese Problem”

4 Japanese Population in the United States, 1870-1940

5 Dennis Kearney on Japanese Immigration, July 1892  The foreign Shylocks are rushing another breed of Asiatic slaves to fill up the gap made vacant by the Chinese who are shut out by our laws.... Japs... are being brought here in countless numbers to demoralize and discourage our domestic labor market and to be educated... at our expense.... We are paying out money [to allow] fully developed men who know no morals but vice to sit beside our... daughters [and] to debauch [and] demoralize them.

6 James D. Phelan, Mayor of San Francisco 1900  The Japanese are starting the same tide of immigration which we thought we had checked twenty years ago.... The Chinese and Japanese are not bona fide citizens. They are not the stuff of which American citizens can be made.... Personally we have nothing against the Japanese, but as they will not assimilate with us and their social life is so different from ours, let them keep a respectful distance.

7 Republican Party Platform 1900  In the further interest of American workmen we favor a more effective restriction of the immigration of cheap labor from foreign lands, the extension of opportunities of education for working children, the raising of the age limit for child labor, the protection of free labor as against contract convict labor, and an effective system of labor insurance.

8 Democratic Platform 1900  We favor the continuance and strict enforcement of the Chinese exclusion law, and its application to the same classes of all Asiatic races.

9 Asiatic Coolie Invasion, Japanese and Korean Exclusion League (1905)  Thousands of fair minded and well meaning people who were biased and ignorant on the question of Japanese immigration have during the last year, entirely changed their views on the subject. They have learned the truth that the Japanese coolie is even a greater menace to the existence of the white race, to the progress and prosperity of our country than is the Chinese coolie.

10 Asiatic Coolie Invasion, Japanese and Korean Exclusion League (1905)  As long as California is white man’s country, it will remain one of the grandest and best states in the union, but the moment the Golden State is subjected to an unlimited Asiatic coolie invasion there will be no more California.

11 William P. Canbu, Grand President, Native Sons of the Golden West, 1920  California was given by God to a white people, and with God’s strength we want to keep it as He gave it to us.

12 Rice Farming in Webster, Texas



15 Oregon Constitution of 1857, Art. XV, sec. 8  No Chinaman, not a resident of the State at the adoption of this Constitution, shall ever hold any real estate, or mining claims or work any mining claim therein. The Legislative Assembly shall provide by law in the most effectual manner for carrying out the above provisions.

16 Alien Land Laws  In 1913, California passed the first Alien Land Law that was directed at Japanese immigrants. It passed 35-2 in the Senate and 72-3 in the Assembly.  California’s population in 1913 was approx. 2.5 million, which included 50,000 Japanese immigrants  Out of California’s 27 million acres of land, Japanese owned 12, 726 acres in 1913

17 California Alien Land Law (1913)  Aliens eligible for citizenship may acquire, hold, and convey real property in the same manner as U.S. citizens  All other aliens may acquire property in the manner prescribed by treaty  Any corporation of which a majority of its members are ineligible aliens or majority of its stock is owned by ineligible may acquire land as prescribed by treaty  Property held in violation of statute will escheat to state

18 States with Ineligible Alien Land Laws  California 1913  Arizona 1917  Louisiana 1921  New Mexico 1922  Idaho 1923  Montana 1923  Oregon 1923  Kansas 1925  Utah 1943

19 Washington Constitution’s Alien Land Provision  The ownership of lands by aliens, other than those who in good faith have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, is prohibited in this state, except where acquired by inheritance, under mortgage or in good faith in the ordinary course of justice in the collection of debts; and all conveyances of lands hereafter made to any alien directly or in trust for such alien, shall be void... Every corporation, the majority of the capital stock of which is owned by aliens, shall be considered an alien for the purposes of this prohibition.

20 Evading the Land Laws  Land bought by native-born sons and daughters  Guardianships were used because they typically were minors  “If you wanted to lease or own land for any purpose you had to use your children’s name.... A set of books had to be set up for inspection by the state authorities in order to prove that you were an employee working for a wage.”---I. K. Ishimatsu.  But by 1919-1920, courts began refusing to grant guardianships and rescinding those already granted

21 Evading the Land Laws  “Borrowing names” of American citizens Hawaiian-born Japanese (who were older than those born on mainland) Hawaiian-born Japanese (who were older than those born on mainland) Sympathetic whites such as L.M. Landsborough who bought six different parcels (100+ acres) for Japanese farmers Sympathetic whites such as L.M. Landsborough who bought six different parcels (100+ acres) for Japanese farmers

22 Evading the Land Laws Dummy corporations Dummy corporations These corporations just needed to have a majority of stockholders who were the majority of stockholders (often set up with native-born children)These corporations just needed to have a majority of stockholders who were the majority of stockholders (often set up with native-born children) Before 1921, 416 such companies held almost 66,000 acresBefore 1921, 416 such companies held almost 66,000 acres

23 California Alien Land Law of 1920  Closed loopholes and added criminal penalties  Denied Japanese aliens all rights of ownership and leasehold over agricultural land  Ineligible aliens prohibited from membership in or acquiring shares in any corporation entitled to own land  Ineligible aliens prohibited from acting as guardians for minors owning or leasing land

24 Continued Evasion of Land Laws  Use of collusive arrangements where the Japanese farmer leased the farm but the formal document showed him acting as a salaried manager  White landlords and Japanese farmers continued to evade the law

25 Terrace v. Thompson (1923)  And, while Congress has exclusive jurisdiction over immigration, naturalization and the disposal of the public domain, each state, in the absence of any treaty provision to the contrary, has power to deny to aliens the right to own land within its borders.

26 Terrace v. Thompson (1923)  Congress is not trammeled, and it may grant or withhold the privilege of naturalization upon any grounds or without any reason, as it sees fit. But it is not to be supposed that its acts defining eligibility are arbitrary or unsupported by reasonable consideration of public policy.

27 Terrace v. Thompson (1923)  The state properly may assume that the considerations upon which Congress made such classification are substantial and reasonable. Generally speaking, the natives of European countries are eligible. Japanese, Chinese and Malays are not. Appellants’ contention that the state act discriminates arbitrarily against Nakatsuka and other ineligible aliens because of their race and color is without foundation. All persons of whatever color or race who have not declared their intention in good faith to become citizens are prohibited from so owning agricultural lands. The rule established by Congress on this subject, in and of itself, furnishes a reasonable basis for classification in a state law withholding from aliens the privilege of land ownership as defined in the act.

28 Terrace v. Thompson (1923)  The quality and allegiance of those who own, occupy and use the farm lands within its borders are matters of highest importance and affect the safety and power of the state itself.  The Terraces, who are citizens, have no right safeguarded by the Fourteenth Amendment to lease their land to aliens lawfully forbidden to take or have such lease. The state act is not repugnant to the equal protection clause and does not contravene the Fourteenth Amendment.

29 Terrace v. Thompson (1923)  Treaty of Commerce and Navigation of 1911 The citizens or subjects of each of the high contracting parties shall have liberty to enter, travel and reside in the territories of the other to carry on trade, wholesale and retail, to own or lease and occupy houses, manufactories, warehouses and shops, to employ agents of their choice, to lease land for residential and commercial purposes, and generally to do anything incident to or necessary for trade upon the same terms as native citizens or subjects, submitting themselves to the laws and regulations there established.

30 Other 1923 Supreme Court Decisions on Alien Land Laws  Porterfield v. Webb, 263 U.S. 225 (1923) California statute upheld against equal protection challenge in case involving lease similar to one in Terrace California statute upheld against equal protection challenge in case involving lease similar to one in Terrace  Webb v. O’Brien, 263 U.S. 313 (1923) California statute upheld against equal protection challenge in case involving cropping contract California statute upheld against equal protection challenge in case involving cropping contract  Frick v. Webb, 263 U.S. 326 (1923) California statute upheld against equal protection challenge in case involving sale of corporation owning agricultural land California statute upheld against equal protection challenge in case involving sale of corporation owning agricultural land

31 Japanese Agricultural Landholdings in California 1920 458, 056 acres 1922 330,653 acres 1925 307,966 acres

32 Oyama v. California, 332 U.S. 633 (1948)  Land taken in escheat action filed while Oyamas were interned  One of the petitioners was Fred Oyama, a minor American citizen in whose name title was taken.  The other petitioner was his father and guardian, Kajiro Oyama, a Japanese citizen ineligible for naturalization  Majority held that California law violated son’s equal protection rights

33 Oyama v. California, 332 U.S. 633 (1948)  We agree with petitioners' first contention, that the Alien Land Law, as applied in this case, deprives Fred Oyama of the equal protection of California's laws and of his privileges as an American citizen. In our view of the case, the State has discriminated against Fred Oyama; the discrimination is based solely on his parents' country of origin; and there is absent the compelling justification which would be needed to sustain discrimination of that nature.

34 Oyama v. California, 332 U.S. 633 (1948)  The fact that the father attached no strings to the transfer was taken to indicate that he meant, in effect, to acquire the beneficial ownership himself. The California law purports to permit citizen sons to take gifts of agricultural land from their fathers, regardless of the fathers' nationality. Yet, as indicated by this case, if the father is ineligible for citizenship, facts which would usually be considered indicia of the son's ownership are used to make that ownership suspect; if the father is not an ineligible alien, however, the same facts would be evidence that a completed gift was intended.

35 Oyama v. California, 332 U.S. 633 (1948)  The cumulative effect, we believe, was clearly to discriminate againt Fred Oyama. He was saddled with an onerous burden of proof which need not be borne by California children generally.... In short, Fred Oyama lost his gift, irretrievably and without compensation, solely because of the extraordinary obstacles which the State set before him.  The only basis for this discrimination against an American citizen, moreover, was the fact that his father was Japanese and not American, Russian, Chinese, or English. But for that fact alone, Fred Oyama, now a little over a year from majority, would be the undisputed owner of the eight acres in question.

36 Oyama v. California Concurring opinion by Black  I concur in the Court’s judgment and its opinion. But I should prefer to reverse the judgment on the broader grounds that the basic provisions of the California Alien Land Law violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and conflict with federal laws and treaties governing the immigration of aliens and their rights after arrival in this country.

37 Oyama v. California Concurring opinion by Murphy  To me the controlling issue in this case is whether the California Alien Land Law on its face is consistent with the Constitution of the United States. Can a state prohibit all aliens ineligible for American citizenship from acquiring, owning, occupying, enjoying, leasing or transferring agricultural land? Does such a prohibition square with the language of the Fourteenth Amendment that no state shall ‘deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws’?

38 Oyama v. California Concurring opinion by Murphy  The negative answer to those queries is dictated by the uncompromising opposition of the Constitution to racism, whatever cloak or disguise it may assume. The California statute in question, as I view it, is nothing more than an outright racial discrimination. As such, it deserves constitutional condemnation. And since the very core of the statute is so defective, I consider it necessary to give voice to that fact even though I join in the opinion of the Court.

39 Oyama v. California Concurring opinion by Murphy  The California Alien Land Law was spawned of the great anti-Oriental virus which, at an early date, infected many persons in that state. The history of this anti-Oriental agitation is not one that does credit to a nation that prides itself, at least historically, on being the friendly haven of the tired and the oppressed of other lands. Beginning in 1850, with the arrival of substantial numbers of Chinese immigrants, racial prejudices and discriminations began to mount....

40 Oyama v. California Concurring opinion by Murphy  It was not until 1900 that Japanese began to arrive in California in large numbers. By that time the repressive measures directed at the Chinese had achieved much of their desired effect; the Chinese population had materially decreased and the antipathy of the Americans was on the decline. But the arrival of the Japanese fanned anew the flames of anti-Oriental prejudice. History then began to repeat itself.






46 G.P.O. War Production Board, 1943



49 How to Tell Your Friends from the Japs Time Magazine, Dec. 22, 1941  Virtually all Japanese are short. Japanese are likely to be stockier and broader-hipped than short Chinese. Japanese are seldom fat; they often dry up and grow lean as they age. Although both have the typical epicanthic fold of the upper eyelid, Japanese eyes are usually set closer together. The Chinese expression is likely to be more placid, kindly, open; the Japanese more positive, dogmatic, arrogant. Japanese are hesitant, nervous in conversation, laugh loudly at the wrong time. Japanese walk stiffly erect, hard heeled. Chinese, more relaxed, have an easy gait, sometimes shuffle

50  Pocket Guide to China  U.S. Army publication


52 General Delos Emmons (Dec. 21, 1941) There is no intention or desire on the part of the federal authorities to operate mass concentration camps.... While we have been subjected to a serious attack by a ruthless and treacherous enemy, we must remember that this is America and we must do things the American Way.


54 Executive Order 9066 (Feb. 19, 1942)  Secretary of War may prescribe “military areas” to protect against espionage and sabotage  Secretary of War may determine which persons can be excluded from those areas  It isn’t clear what would occur next, but that decision already had been made



57  General John L. DeWitt, Feb. 14, 1942 In the war in which we are now engaged racial affinities are not severed by migration. The Japanese race is an enemy race and while many second and third generation Japanese born on United States soil, possessed of United States citizenship, have become ‘Americanized,” the racial strains are undiluted.... It, therefore, follows that along the vital Pacific Coast over 112,000 potential enemies, of Japanese extraction, are at large today.

58 Grower-Shipper Vegetable Association, May 1942  We’ve been charged wanting to get rid of the Japs for selfish reasons. We might as be honest. We do. It’s a question of whether the white man lives on the Pacific Coast or the brown man. They came into this valley to work, and they stayed to take over.... If all the Japs were removed tomorrow, we’d never miss them in two weeks, because the white farmers can take over and produce everything the Jap grows.

















75 “Go for Broke”: The 442nd Regiment  18,143 individual decorations  21 Congressional Medal of Honor  52 Distinguished Service Crosses  560 Silver Stars  4000 Bronze Stars  9,486 Purple Hearts

76 Gordon Hirabayashi  Quaker and conscientious objector  Went to FBI office to refuse to comply with exclusion order  “As an American citizen, I wanted to uphold the principles of the Constitution, and the curfew and evacuation orders which singled out a group on the basis of ethnicity violated them. It was not acceptable to me to be less than a full citizen in a white man’s country.”

77 Gordon Hirabayashi  If I were to register and cooperate under these circumstances I would be giving helpless consent to the denial of practically all the things which give me incentive to live. I must maintain my Christian principles. I consider it my duty to maintain the democratic standards for which this nation lives.

78 Hirabayashi v. United States (1943)  The questions for our decision are whether the particular restriction violated, namely that all persons of Japanese ancestry residing in such an area be within their place of residence daily between the hours of 8:00 p. m. and 6:00 a.m., was adopted by the military commander in the exercise of an unconstitutional delegation by Congress of its legislative power, and whether the restriction unconstitutionally discriminated between citizens of Japanese ancestry and those of other ancestries in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

79 Hirabayashi v. United States (1943)  Public Proclamation No. 3  All alien Japanese, all alien Germans, all alien Italians, and all persons of Japanese ancestry residing or being within the geographical limits of Military Area No. 1... shall be within their place of residence between the hours of 8:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M., which period is hereinafter referred to as the hours of curfew'.

80 Hirabayashi v. United States (1943)  Executive Order No. 9066, promulgated in time of war for the declared purpose of prosecuting the war by protecting national defense resources from sabotage and espionage, and the Act of March 21, 1942, ratifying and confirming the Executive Order, were each an exercise of the power to wage war conferred on the Congress and on the President, as Commander in Chief of the armed forces, by Articles I and II of the Constitution.

81 Hirabayashi v. United States (1943)  The actions taken must be appraised in the light of the conditions with which the President and Congress were confronted in the early months of 1942, many of which since disclosed, were then peculiarly within the knowledge of the military authorities. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese air forces had attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor without warning, at the very hour when Japanese diplomatic representatives were conducting negotiations with our State Department ostensibly for the peaceful settlement of differences between the two countries....

82 Hirabayashi v. United States (1943)  The challenged orders were defense measures for the avowed purpose of safeguarding the military area in question, at a time of threatened air raids and invasion by the Japanese forces, from the danger of sabotage and espionage. As the curfew was made applicable to citizens residing in the area only if they were of Japanese ancestry, our inquiry must be whether in the light of all the facts and circumstances there was any substantial basis for the conclusion, in which Congress and the military commander united, that the curfew as applied was a protective measure necessary to meet the threat of sabotage and espionage which would substantially affect the war effort and which might reasonably be expected to aid a threatened enemy invasion.

83 Hirabayashi v. United States (1943)  There is support for the view that social, economic and political conditions which have prevailed since the close of the last century, when the Japanese began to come to this country in substantial numbers, have intensified their solidarity and have in large measure prevented their assimilation as an integral part of the white population. In addition, large numbers of children of Japanese parentage are sent to Japanese language schools outside the regular hours of public schools in the locality.

84 Hirabayashi v. United States (1943)  As a result of all these conditions affecting the life of the Japanese, both aliens and citizens, in the Pacific Coast area, there has been relatively little social intercourse between them and the white population. The restrictions, both practical and legal, affecting the privileges and opportunities afforded to persons of Japanese extraction residing in the United States, have been sources of irritation and may well have tended to increase their isolation, and in many instances their attachments to Japan and its institutions.

85 Hirabayashi v. United States (1943)  The extent of that danger could be definitely known only after the event and after it was too late to meet it. Whatever views we may entertain regarding the loyalty to this country of the citizens of Japanese ancestry, we cannot reject as unfounded the judgment of the military authorities and of Congress that there were disloyal members of that population, whose number and strength could not be precisely and quickly ascertained. We cannot say that the war- making branches of the Government did not have ground for believing that in a critical hour such persons could not readily be isolated and separately dealt with, and constituted a menace to the national defense and safety, which demanded that prompt and adequate measures be taken to guard against it.

86 Hirabayashi v. United States (1943)  Today is the first time, so far as I am aware, that we have sustained a substantial restriction of the personal liberty of citizens of the United States based upon the accident of race or ancestry. Under the curfew order here challenged no less than 70,000 American citizens have been placed under a special ban and deprived of their liberty because of their particular racial inheritance. In this sense it bears a melancholy resemblance to the treatment accorded to members of the Jewish race in Germany and in other parts of Europe. The result is the creation in this country of two classes of citizens for the purposes of a critical and perilous hour-to sanction discrimination between groups of United States citizens on the basis of ancestry. In my opinion this goes to the very brink of constitutional power. [Original draft of dissent said it went beyond the brink.]


88 Fred Korematsu  Born in Oakland  Studied welding at a trade school and became a shipyard welder and member of Boilermakers Union  Began dating Ida Boitano in 1941, a second- generation Italian American  Korematsu disobeyed the evacuation order, initially planning to go to the Midwest with Ida  He underwent plastic surgery and obtained a draft card with the name “Clyde Sarah,” telling people he was from Las Vegas and was of Spanish- Hawaiian origin  After he was arrested three weeks later, local paper ran headline “Jap Spy Arrested.”

89 Korematsu v. United States (1944)   What order did Korematsu violate?   According to the majority opinion, why was this order issued?   What provides the constitutional basis for sustaining the exclusion order?

90 Korematsu v. United States Majority opinion  It wasn’t “beyond the war power of Congress and the Executive to exclude those of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast war area at the time they did. Exclusion from a threatened area, no less than curfew, has a definite and close relationship to the prevention of espionage and sabotage. The military authorities, charged with the primary responsibility of defending our shores, concluded that curfew provided inadequate protection and ordered exclusion.”

91 Korematsu v. United States   What is the difference between the majority opinion and the dissenting opinions on what deference should be given military authorities?   What is the difference between the majority opinion and the dissenting opinions on the question of whether racism influenced the decision by the military to exclude Japanese from certain areas of the West Coast?

92 Korematsu v. United States Murphy dissent  This exclusion of all persons of Japanese ancestry, both alien and non-alien, from the Pacific Coast area on a plea of military necessity in the absence of martial law ought not to be approved. Such exclusion goes over the very brink of constitutional power and falls into the ugly abyss of racism.

93 Korematsu v. United States Murphy dissent   According to Murphy, what should the military authorities have done differently?  “No adequate reason is given for the failure to treat these Japanese Americans on an individual basis by holding investigations and hearings to separate the loyal from the disloyal, as was done in the case of persons of German and Italian ancestry. Yet nearly four months elapsed after Pearl Harbor before the first exclusion order was issued; nearly eight months went by until the last order was issued; and the last of these subversive persons was not actually removed until almost eleven months had elapsed.”

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