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United States And The Japanese Americans Essay

5538 words - 22 pages

United States and the Japanese-Americans

The United States of America has had a rich and complex history that showcases a nation on the move, a nation based on the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and a nation that is based on equality under the law and considered to be the land of opportunity for all. However, these American ideals are not always put into practice, especially when it comes to the treatment of immigrants. Whether these immigrants are Irish, Jewish, Italian, etc, they have not been afforded the same rights and privileges as their American brethren. One such group of immigrants that gets overlooked in the discourse of the mistreatment of the immigrant is the Japanese. Although they are often passed over when it comes to other immigrant groups, their story reflects the deep-rooted inequality between the so-called American citizen and the Japanese immigrant, as shown through the internment of the Japanese during World War II and the events that led up to it.

Perhaps the best place to begin the examination of American-Japanese immigrant relations is at the beginning. This relationship started shortly after the American Civil War, when in 1869, the very first Japanese immigrants came to settle in the Gold Hills of California. Like many other immigrant groups, the Japanese came primarily looking for jobs because the reputation of America is one of opportunity with its trademark “give us your poor, your hungry, and your huddled masses” slogan. However, the following year, the U.S. Congress gave black and white immigrants naturalization rights but excluded Asian immigrant groups from such rights, and in 1911, the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization continued the actions of Congress by only allowing whites and blacks to apply for U.S citizenship, failing to include among others Japanese immigrants. In 1913, the Alien Land Bill disqualified Japanese immigrants from owning land in California, and in 1924, the U.S. Congress, for all intents and purposes, disallowed any further immigration of Japanese people (Houston and Houston xi). This last act in this sequence is a culmination of anti-Asian sentiment. First, the United States would not give naturalization rights to Asian immigrant or even allow these immigrants to apply for citizenship. Then the U.S. government would not allow them to own land and finally stopped their immigration to the United States altogether. Although these particular acts do not specifically target the Japanese but Asian-Americans in general, these actions by the U.S. government definitely do not aid in the attempt of Japanese immigrants to successfully become U.S. citizens and integrate into American society.

However, that does not mean that the U.S. did not create certain understandings with the Japanese government to choke off Japanese immigration. In 1905, the Russo-Japanese War was won by the Japanese, the first time that an Asian power had ever defeated a...

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