September 26, 2019
Like you, we are the children and grandchildren of Japanese Americans who experienced the humiliation and degradation of WWII incarceration. Like you, our families have faced “disadvantage and prejudice,” and worked hard to carve out a life for us in a country that frequently tells us we do not belong here.
Unlike you, we have learned from our shared history.
We have learned that white supremacy is a far greater threat to our national security than any immigrant will ever be. We have learned that systems of detention and deportation are driven by prejudice and profit, rooted not in fact but in weaponized fear. We have learned that the trauma of incarceration can linger in families and communities for generations.
You stand on the wrong side of history. The children whose abuse you condone today will remember you the way our Nisei elders remember the vultures who swooped in to steal property for pennies on the dollar and the armed soldiers who herded their families onto buses in 1942.
Despite whatever you tell yourself in order to sleep at night, you choose to earn your living by caging human beings and then turning a blind eye to the abuse and neglect that inevitably occurs within a system designed to abuse and neglect human beings. The fact that your family was once imprisoned under similar circumstances does not absolve you of your role in this moral catastrophe. It means you should know better.
You do not speak for us. Don’t you dare try to hide the blood on your hands by pointing to the scars our elders carry because of people like you. Get our name out of your prison-profiteering mouth, and stop speaking over the survivors putting their bodies on the line to protect the people you betrayed.
As Japanese Americans who share your family’s history of incarceration, we call on you to immediately:
- Meet in person with Japanese American community leaders and leaders in impacted communities to hear the harm you have caused
- Donate the profits from your detention facility inspections to Detention Watch Network, which is working to shut down these places of abuse
- Write a public apology for your twisted use of Japanese American history to defend your complicity
- Withdraw your company’s pending bid to continue its ICE inspection contract
Our history is a cautionary tale, not a get-rich-quick scheme.
Our history is a call to action, not a license to harm vulnerable people.
Our history is a responsibility to the generations who came before us and to those who will have to clean up what we leave behind. We refuse to let you pollute that inheritance by making us an accessory to your crimes against humanity. We will not be silent while you capitalize on the suffering of our immigrant siblings.
We invite you to do better — but we will continue fighting this disgusting and inhumane carceral machine, with or without you.
By Densho Staff
[Header photo: Japanese Americans protest the incarceration of immigrant children and families at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty.]