The country hasn’t learned from history, says Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s granddaughter, who calls current immigration policies, like the internment of Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor, “inconsistent with who we are as a country.”
Roosevelt, 70, wasn’t yet born when her grandfather issued the executive order that forced 120,000 Japanese-Americans, including citizens, into internment camps. But she said history provided a “very available lesson to learn from, and we didn’t. Our country did not learn.”
President Trump’s hardline immigration stances, including his “zero-tolerance” policy, which has separated immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border, are being likened to a time in American history when families were taken from their homes and separated. Near the beginning of American entry into World War II, amid fears about national security, Roosevelt signed and issued Executive Order 9066, banning Americans of Japanese ancestry from designated “military areas” — including the entire state of California. Whole communities were relocated to camps in other states.
“With the Japanese internment camps, we gathered up the whole family and displaced them from their homes and their businesses and their possessions. This is even worse,” said Roosevelt about the family separations happening today. “We’re taking people from the only anchor they have when they’re in a moment of distress and separating them from that place where they feel like they have someone to hang on to. What I would have hoped is that we would have learned from the examination of internment during World War II.”