Virginian mayor suggests using internment camps for refugees

Virginian mayor faces criticism after stating that internment camps which held Japanese Americans in WWII should be used for Syrian refugees

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

Syrian refugees at campsite in Jordan

The mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, provoked a uproar after publishing controversial letter in the wake of the Paris attacks which stated that Syrian refugees should not be resettled in the United States and instead should be placed in internment camps used to hold Japanese Americans during World War II. 

Mayor David Bower, a Democrat, called for all Roanoke Valley agencies to stop assisting Syrian refugees due to security concerns. 

He then wrote that he is “reminded that President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from ISIS now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then."

After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, Roosevelt relocated about 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry to 10 separate camps in California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas.

Although they had not formally committed a crime, many people across the US were worried that they were secretly loyal to the Axis Powers. 

The overcrowded internment camps in which people often lived in poor conditions are now considered to be illegal.

In at attempt to heal the scars of the policy, which is now considered to be a highly shameful period in the history of the US, the government issued a formal apology in 1988 and paid reparations to former Japanese internees and their heirs.

Bower has now joined a growing number of politicians who want to prevent Syrian refugees entering the US after the terror attacks in Paris which left 129 dead. 

The US House of Representatives will vote as early as Thursday for resolution 4038, proposed in an attempt to block administration plans to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016.

Although the politicians do not have legal power to stop the resettlement process, they can complicate the process. 

The White House said on Wednesday that Obama would veto the Republican bill, adding that the measure "would unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world."

Obama supports a plan announced by the White House in September which would allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the US in a year.

TRTWorld and agencies