Do you think that people should be imprisoned just because of their ancestry, race or the way they look? After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, United States joined World War II. Anyone who looked Japanese was suspected of being a Japanese spy. A wave of hatred for all Japanese Americans spread throughout the country, especially on the West Coast. Over 120,000 Japanese Americans, including women and children, were torn from their homes and imprisoned in one of ten “Relocation Camps” located in desolate deserts and plains in seven western states. It didn’t matter if a person was born in the United States and was an American citizen.
Before being crammed into trains and buses to be transported to the camps, people were confined in temporary centers such as stables at racetracks. Housing at the camps were drafty, tarpaper barracks, where walls did not reach the ceiling, with cots for beds. Every family, no matter its size, was packed into one small room with no plumbing, which meant no bathroom or kitchen. Women cooked in communal kitchens, and everyone had to trek to a common bathroom with unpartitioned toilets. Prison camps were surrounded by barbed wires, and armed guards were posted on towers.
The evacuees were only allowed to take a few suitcases and were given only days to sell most of their possessions. Many people were unable to sell their farms, businesses, and houses in such a short time, and by the time they were released three-four years later, their properties had been confiscated by banks, governments or other people.