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Among other problems which the War Relocation Authority faced during its liquidation period was the question of what would happen to its hundreds of civil service employees. In an effort to find an answer, a personnel survey was conducted in the spring of 1945 to determine possible placement of staff members with other Government agencies. On July 1, 1944, there were 2,284 employees, 2,015 of whom were stationed in the field, while 269 staffed the Washington offices. On June 30, 1945, the total employment was 2,436, an increase of 152, as the relocation program was being developed into its final phases. Most of this increase was in the field, where the total reached 2,154, with 282 in the Washington office.
Litigation of vital concern to the evacuees, both in and out of the centers, was spread on the records during the year.
On December 18, the United States Supreme Court handed down decisions in the Fred Korematsu and Mitsuye Endo cases. In the former, the legality of the evacuation orders was sustained. In the latter the court held that the War Relocation Authority had no authority to detain and control the movements of citizens who were concededly loyal to the United States. Although the War Relocation Authority in anticipation of War and Justice Department assumption of responsibility for security measures, had been shaping its policies toward elimination of its leave clearance requirements in any event, the Endo decision made it unmistakably clear that detention of citizens solely on the grounds of race or ancestry could not be sustained before the courts.
Land laws aimed at alien Japanese began to crop up in various States. The Oregon Legislature adopted a law making the possession or ownership of land by Japanese and other aliens ineligible for citizenship a criminal offense, and amending the rules of evidence for the trial of cases arising under the State alien land law. A proposed Colorado constitutional amendment to authorize restrictions on ownership of land by aliens failed in a referendum in November. In California, a referendum petition for an amendment to the State alien land law to extend it to “dual” citizens as well as aliens ineligible for citizenship and to the ownership of watercraft as well as land failed for lack of a sufficient number of signatures. This same amendment was introduced in the State legislature at its session which closed in June, but failed to pass. Law enforcement officials in California instituted 28 civil suits to forfeit to the State land alleged to be held by Japanese aliens and the State of Washington instituted 13 similar civil suits.
As it became increasingly apparent that the West coast exclusion would eventually be rescinded and War Relocation Authority leave regulations simultaneously abolished, plans were developed for setting up relocation machinery at the Tule Lake Segregation Center. Under regulations of the Western Defense Command, it was anticipated that quite a large number of these evacuees would be eligible for resettlement on the west coast as well as elsewhere in the United States.
A policy was adopted for Tule Lake similar to that in effect for other centers and by the time the ban was lifted on January 2, the administration was ready. Prior to this time there had been only slight interest in relocation, but in January inquiries began to trickle into the newly established relocation office in the center. The first person to relocate from Tule Lake since it had been designated as a segregation center was a young man who departed for Minneapolis late in the month.
In the period between that time and the close of the fiscal year, 140 persons relocated directly from Tule Lake to outside communities. In addition, approximately 400 residents of Tule Lake who were out on seasonal leave effected permanent departures during this period, or were institutionalized outside, so that a total of more than 500
actually relocated between January 2 and June 30. The population
remaining as the fiscal year closed was 17,454.
The fiscal year at Tule Lake got away to a rather turbulent start, with the murder on July 2 of the evacuee manager of the Business Enterprises. This was apparently the culmination of a feud between those evacuees who were willing to cooperate with the administration and those who were not. As a result of the stabbing, the board of directors and all key evacuee personnel of the cooperative resigned. Before the end of July the entire evacuee police force also had resigned, as the investigation into the murder became more intense. The murder was never solved, and the police department was reorganized as the Colonial Peace, to carry on. A reorganization of the Cooperative was also effected, and by the end of July the Business Enterprises were again functioning satisfactorily.
Twenty-seven Nisei were arrested in July, charged with failure to report for preinduction physical examinations, but at their trial at Eureka, Calif., the charges were dismissed when the court held that Selective Service did not apply to residents of Tule Lake, since it was a segregation center. Also in this month 16 men held in the Stockade, where the more belligerent were confined, went on a hunger strike which lasted 10 days.
There followed a period of agitation for “resegregation" by the proJapanese group, which began to promote Japanese culture through three societies, Sokuji Kikoku Hoshi Dan, for older men; Hokoku Seinen Dan, for younger men and Hokoku Joshi Dan for women. These societies sponsored early morning marching formations by their members and engaged in other pro-Japanese rituals intended to develop more strongly the Japanese pattern of living. These practices subsided, however, and much of the resegregation agitation also, with removal of 56 of the leaders to the internment camp at Crystal City, Tex.
In December the Department of Justice completed hearings on another 56 men who had asked expatriation, and these, together with 14 aliens, were transferred to the interment camp at Santa Fe, N. Mex. They left Tule Lake on December 28, 10 days after announcement of the lifting of the West coast ban. This announcement and the accompanying announcement of the liquidation of the other centers had a dampening effect on any demonstration by the population. In all, 1,416 persons were removed by the Justice Department from the Tule Lake center to interment camps during the fiscal year.
EMERGENCY REFUGEE SHELTER On June 30 the Emergency Refugee Shelter at Fort Ontario, Oswego, N.Y., completed its first fiscal year under the administration of the War Relocation Authority, which was first designated for this responsibility on June 9, 1944.
While plans were being made to receive the European refugees as the 1944 fiscal year closed, the War Relocation Authority did not actually assume custody of the Fort Ontario grounds until July 30. Six days later, on August 5, the refugees arrived at the Shelter where housing had been prepared for them on the old fort grounds.
In the group were 982 persons ranging in age from infants to octogenarians, representing 18 nationalities. The largest national groups were 367 from Yugoslavia; 244 from Austria; 149 from Poland; 94 from Germany and 41 from Czechoslovakia. Others were from Belgium, Bulgaria, Danzig, France, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Libya, Rumania, Russia, Spain, and Turkey.
With so many nationalities represented the Administration was faced with complex problems caused by language, geographic and cultural differences. However, a plan of community organization was set up similar to that which had been operating in the relocation centers, with the exception of schools. Arrangements were completed on September 1, with school authorities in the adjacent town of Oswego, whereby the children of the refugees would be accepted on the same basis as American children. With the opening of classes, 189 of these children were enrolled.
Although the refugees were brought into the United States outside immigration quotas and were required to sign an agreement which stated that they understood they were to return to their homes after the war, it soon became apparent that the majority had no desire to return, that many had close relatives in the United States, and that most sections of liberated Europe were in no position to receive them. The most feasible alternative was to develop procedures under which those who desired to remain in America could be admitted under quotas which had not been filled since the start of the war. Early in the spring the War Relocation Authority began exploring the possibility of such a program, with the Departments of State and Justice, but no definite conclusions were reached by the end of the fiscal year. Meanwhile, members of the subcommittee of the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization conducted hearings at the Shelter on June 25–27, inclusive, to determine the possibility and advisability of extending immigration status to the Shelter residents. As the year closed, this subcommittee had not yet announced its findings.
During the year there were 14 permanent departures from the Shelter. One person left on February 28 for the Union of South Africa, and 13 others returned to Europe on the Gripsholm on May 30. There were 10 deaths and 11 births during the year, leaving a net population of 969 as of June 30.
On June 6, the over-all responsibility for the Shelter program was transferred by order of the President from the War Refugee Board to the Department of the Interior.
As the War Relocation Authority approached the end of its unique experience in caring for a displaced racial segment of the American population, it becomes somewhat easier to evaluate that experience in proper perspective and to derive from it certain basic recommendations for the future. First, the War Relocation Authority earnestly hopes that the United States will never again be faced with a similar problem. Second, the Authority recommends strongly against putting displaced people in camps except for limited periods and under emergency conditions, such as natural catastrophe, where there is no feasible alternative. Third, this agency has learned the grave dangers that lie in generalizing about a whole group of people and restricting their movements on the basis of such generalization. It believes deeply that no resident of this country should be detained or moved against his will merely because he is a member of some group. All actions of this kind should be based on painstaking examination of the person's individual record. Fourth, the War Relocation Authority is under no illusions that it has completely solved all problems of the evacuated people of Japanese descent. After the last War Relocation Authority field office is closed, there will still be a tremendous job for American democracy in helping these people to become satisfactorily readjusted and in safeguarding their rights against the poison of racial discrimination. But this is a job which can be done most effectively by private organizations and individuals working close to the problem in the scores of communities where the resettling evacuees have made their homes. For more than 2 years the Authority has been encouraging such groups to assume an increasing measure of responsibility for evacuee adjustment and for protection of evacuee rights. It now looks forward to the termination of its own official life with full confidence that the work of fitting the evacuated people back into the main stream of our natural life will be carried forward with energy and zeal.