On February 20, 76 years after the United States incarcerated the first of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps, California will approve a bill that formally apologizes for its participation, the Los Angeles Times reports. The National Park Service called the incident “the largest single forced relocation in U.S. history.”
Introduced by assembly member Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) and co-authored with six others, bill HR 77 calls out the executive order, signed by then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for creating “a great human cost of abandoned homes, businesses, farms, careers, professional advancements, disruption to family life and public humiliation.” It also includes the racist legislation that led to the February 19, 1942, order, including the California Alien Land Law of 1913.
“Given recent national events, it is all the more important to learn from the mistakes of the past and to ensure that such an assault on freedom will never again happen to any community in the United States,” the authors wrote in the bill.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), one of the authors, said the bill is a way to put action behind words. “We so often talk about our need to not repeat mistakes of the past. The first step in doing so is making sure we acknowledge wrongs,” Rendon told the Los Angeles Times. “We owe it to those who suffered by acknowledging their mistreatments but also to educate our future generations so history does not repeat itself.”
The bill is expected to pass with support from Governor Gavin Newsom.