Over 127,000 U.S. citizens were imprisoned during World War II, just for being of Japanese ancestry.
Japanese Americans were suspected of disloyalty to the United States, and they were considered a security risk.
President Roosevelt signed an executive order in February 1942 ordering the relocation of all Japanese Americans to concentration camps in the United States.
Japanese American families did not know if their homes and jobs would still be there upon their return, and many of them sold their homes and businesses at a fraction of their true value.
Almost two-thirds of the internees were born in the United States and many had never even been to Japan. Some of them had even served in the U.S. military during World War I.
Ten camps were built in remote areas of seven western states. The housing was mainly tarpaper barracks. Families dined together at communal mess halls, and children were expected to attend school. Adults had the option of working for a salary of $5 per day. The U.S. government hoped that the camps would produce their own food, but the soil was not good for farming.
Elected representatives met with government officials on behalf of the internees, but they did not achieve much success. Some of the internees volunteered to fight in the all-Nisei (American whose parents immigrated from Japan) army regiments.
Life in the relocation camps was not easy. They were cold in the winter and hot in the summer. The food was institutional army food. And the internees knew that if they tried to escape, armed guards would shoot them.
Source: Japanese-American Internment
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