What is Tsuru for Solidarity?
In March 2019, a group of Japanese American and Japanese Latin American WWII concentration camp survivors and descendants organized a pilgrimage to the former site of the Crystal City Internment Camp in South Texas where survivors had been indefinitely imprisoned as children, separated from their fathers. This family reunification prison camp was run by the Department of Justice. Japanese and Japanese American prisoners, together with Japanese Latin Americans who had been kidnapped and brought to the U.S., were to fill the numbers to meet the quota for a massive hostage exchange agreement with Japan.
Organizers couldn’t ignore the fact that just 40 miles east of the Crystal City site, on the very same highway, history was being repeated again. Hundreds of mothers and children seeking asylum from Central America were being held at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, criminalized by anti-immigrant racist policies resulting in family separation, indefinite detention, and deportation. Pilgrimage organizers felt compelled to stand in solidarity with the imprisoned families.
The Texas Dilley Protest was supported by Grassroots Leadership in partnership with numerous Japanese American civil liberties groups, community leaders and allied organizations. A call was issued for people to fold 10,000 origami cranes to be hung on the fences surrounding the Dilley detention center. The crane is a unique symbol in Japanese culture for transformation, healing, and nonviolence. By the time of the protest, we received 30,000 origami cranes from around the world. Hung on the fences at the protest, these cranes, folded with messages of solidarity, hope, and love, came from temples, churches, libraries, union halls, community centers, schools, and even prisoners at San Quentin State Prison. Taiko drummers from across the country joined the protest and thundered at the fence, a message of solidarity and hope to the people imprisoned inside.
Tsuru for Solidarity is now an independent project working to end detention sites and support directly impacted immigrant and refugee communities targeted by racism, state violence, injustice and oppression in the United States. Learn more about our organization’s history of actions in the timeline at the bottom of the page.
“No Ban, No Wall, No Camps, No-No!”
Our MissionTsuru for Solidarity is a nonviolent, direct action project of Japanese American social justice advocates and allies working to end detention sites and support directly impacted immigrant and refugee communities that are being targeted by racist, inhumane immigration policies. We stand on the moral authority of Japanese Americans who suffered the atrocities and legacy of U.S. concentration camps during WWII and we say, “Stop Repeating History!”
Never Again is NOW. Our mission is to:
- educate, advocate, and protest to close all U.S. concentration camps;
- build solidarity with other communities of color that have experienced forced removal, detention, deportation, separation of families, and other forms of racial and state violence;
- coordinate intergenerational, cross-community healing circles addressing the trauma of our shared histories.
Our Path Forward
Dilley, Laredo, Austin, Texas
As part of a pilgrimage to Crystal City, a Department of Justice camp during World War II for Japanese and Japanese Americans, we protested outside of the Dilley, Texas Detention Center
Watch a short documentary on our action here.
Fort Sill, Oklahoma
Following the announcement of plans to incarcerate 1,400 immigrant children at Fort Sill, Tsuru for Solidarity traveled to Fort Sill and protested with AIM Indian Territory, Black Lives Matter – OKC, ACLU Oklahoma and other organizations on the ground. Read more>>
Close the Camps Protest at Fort Sill
In July, we returned to Fort Sill in solidarity with United We Dream and other organizations to #CloseTheCamps — read about it here.
Butterfly Effect Youth Rally – Oakland, CA
Tsuru for Solidarity joined The Butterfly Effect: Migration is Beautiful Project for a youth-led rally in Oakland, where members spoke in solidarity with children in detention.
Stop the Nakamoto Group’s Contract with ICE petition with 18 Million Rising, Rockville, MD
Oshogatsu Protest at Yuba County Jail, Marysville, CA
In collaboration with other community organizations, we brought in the New Year in protest outside of Yuba County Jail–click here for photos and reflections.
More in the news: AsAm News | Japanese American WWII camp survivors, allies hold coalition protest at ICE-contracted Yuba County Jail January 11, 2020
Univision Sacramento | Activistas exigieron que la cárcel del Condado Yuba sea utilizada como centro de detención de inmigrantes January 12, 2020
Day of Remembrance Day of Action, Northwest Detention Center, Tacoma Washington
Read about Tsuru for Solidarity’s action with La Resistencia outside of Northwest Detention Center here.
More in the news: KNKX | Crowd remembers Japanese incarceration at immigrant detention center in Tacoma February 24, 2020
Goal of 125,000 tsuru reached
Find out more about how we are continuing our tsuru folding project
Tsuru Rising! Virtual Protest to Close the Camps
East Wind | Tsuru for Solidarity’s Nationwide Rallies June 8
Pacific Citizen | Tsuru for Solidarity Rallies Activists Across the Country June 26, 2020
“No More Camps” skywriting action over Santa Anita as part of In Plain Sight
Over the July 4th weekend, 80 artists, including Karen Ishizuka of Tsuru for Solidarity, joined together to launch XMAP: In Plain Sight – a stunning effort to make visible the injustices of the largest immigration detention system in the world. Read more here and in the news:
Los Angeles Times | 80 Artists will Mark Fourth of July with Skytyped Messages Over U.S. Detention Centers July 3, 2020
Hypebeast | 80 Artists are Launching Aerial Demonstrations Over Detention Centers Nationwide July 3, 2020
Rally to Shut Down Berks Detention Center
July 25, 2020
July 2020, Tsuru Rising! Community Conversations launches
Session 1, Japanese American Identity and Intergenerational Trauma, a conversation with Dr. Donna Nagata, psychologist and scholar, and Dr. Satuski Ina, Co-organizer, Tsuru for Solidarity, moderated by Brian Niiya, Content Director, Densho.
August 1, 2020
Funeral and Die-in at Governor Wolf’s home to Free Black Families at Berks
With the Shut Down Berks Coalition, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, Free Migration Project, and CASA, Tsuru for Solidarity protest in front of Governor Tom Wolf’s home.
Healing the Movement
Began offering Healing Circles for Immigration movement organizations
Child Detention Narrative
Joined Four Freedoms Fund child detention messaging research cohor
National Child Detention Coalition
Founded National Child Detention coalition with Detention Watch Network (DWN), Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), United We Dream (UWD), Vera Institute, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
Co-organized National ACLU HR40 conference
Hosted JA/Black Solidarity virtual program centered on reparations and anti-blackness within Asian American, specifically Japanese American community.
Contagion in the Camps Campaign and National Fold-In
Hosted a virtual Forum for Lam Le, a Vietnamese refugee, who at risk of deportation
Nikkei Abolition Study Group
The Nikkei Abolition Study Group is a collective and collaborative effort to introduce and engage the Japanese American community in an ongoing dialogue about the abolition of the prison industrial complex, policing, and other institutions that cause harm, and the creation of life-affirming systems that promote community safety, well-being, accountability, and harm prevention. This study group will also work together to build an abolitionist framework to guide our organizing efforts and incorporate into our everyday lives. In doing so, this study group will draw wisdom from the writings and teachings of Black-led movements, Black activists and scholars, Indigenous activists and scholars, and other abolitionists of color.
For this study group, we are asking that only people who identify as Nikkei or Japanese attend (including mixed race and ethnicity Nikkei/Japanese folks). We are creating this as a Nikkei/Japanese specific space because the purpose of this group is to collectively and honestly engage in an ongoing dialogue about the abolition of policing, surveillance, detention and incarceration, and build an abolitionist framework to inform and guide our organizing efforts in community. We want to openly discuss and express feelings and questions we have, without other people having to hold space for those questions and feelings. The organizers of this study group are not experts and will be learning alongside members of this study group.
#PardonLamLe RallyRally at CA capitol for Lam Le
Rally at CA capitol in Sacramento for Lam Le
Testimony for Congressional Hearing on HR40
Led community congressional testimony for HR 40
Fort Bliss Direct Action
Hosted and led a direct action protest, with national partners within the Child Detention Coalition, in opposition of using Fort Bliss, a former JA incarceration site to detain children. Engage in arts activism and healing circles for impacted families and people.
Child Detention Letter
Developed a national Sign on Letter opposing Child and Family Detention to Sec Becerra and Sec Mayorkas
Healing from Intergenerational Trauma
Hosted a virtual program for JA Intergenerational Trauma with community based healing circles
Healing Circles for the National Asian American Leaders Round Table
Began to conduct healing circles regarding anti-Asian violence for community organization across the country.
Stop Repeating History!
This video series highlights the connections between Japanese American incarceration survivors and current survivors of detention centers and features an intergenerational cross-racial dialogue of survivors of state-sanctioned violence.
Which can be viewed here (under stop repeating history).
Solidarity in Struggle: Child Detention 101 Webinar for Japanese American community
Tsuru Child Detention went to Washington D.C. for a national advocacy day where we connected with members on the hill regarding the current issues of reparations and child detention.
Hosted a rally in Greensboro, NC with American Friends Service Committee and other national partners within the coalition to end child detention to call attention to the opening of a new facility in Greensboro.