STATEMENT ON TREATMENT OF IRANIAN AMERICANS AT BORDER
Tsuru for Solidarity is alarmed by reports that Iranian Americans have been singled out to be held for hours and then intrusively questioned by border agents. Japanese Americans remember how wartime hysteria and racism led to surveillance, roundups of Japanese American community leaders, race-based curfews, and then to the wholesale roundup and incarceration of our entire community.
War is no justification for discrimination on the basis of race, religion, or national origin. But it is familiar excuse. Indeed, when the U.S. Supreme Court denied Fred Korematsu’s constitutional challenge in 1944, the Court relied on government assertions to claim that references to racial prejudice “merely confuse the issue” and insisted that the wrongs Korematsu suffered were not “because of hostility to him or his race” but rather “because we are at war with the Japanese Empire.” Decades later, government documents conclusively established that the government’s self-serving assertions were false and that racial prejudice had in fact been the driving force behind the wartime roundup and incarceration.
Especially when we are living under the same presidential administration that created the Muslim Ban, with white nationalists like Stephen Miller directing White House policy, we cannot be complacent about government efforts to justify discriminatory acts as legitimate security measures. The weekend’s events have put us on a dangerous path.