Winds of War
Winds of War
Internment and the Great Transformation, 1941–1952
This chapter covers the period during and just after World War II, a time when anti-Asian racism peaked against Japanese Americans while softening significantly for other Asian groups and in some ways even for Japanese Americans themselves. The destruction of Pearl Harbor led to the evacuation and internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast based on deep suspicions about the group’s loyalty. Yet faced with necessities related to war propaganda, the federal government also celebrated Japanese Americans, including internees, as loyal Americans, which culminated in the praise for triumphant Nisei soldiers. Meanwhile, Congress repealed Chinese, Filipino, and Indian exclusion, and California repealed the alien land law due to exigencies stemming for U.S. military alliances and international relations during World War II and subsequent Cold War. By 1952, through the McCarran-Walter immigration legislation, Congress repealed Japanese exclusion and for the first time all Asian nations had immigration quotas and their peoples could become U.S. citizens. This was a “great transformation” in the annuals of Asian American history.
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