Trump Supporter: Japanese Internment Camps are Precedent For a Muslim Registry

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Since his win, President-elect Donald Trump may have tried to calm people who are worried about his presidency by preaching goodwill and by encouraging those inciting violence to stop. But many of his supporters are doing the opposite. On Wednesday night, Trump supporter Carl Higbie appeared on Fox News and cited the Japanese internment camps during World War II as a “precedent” for a Muslim registry, which many Trump supporters have proposed.

Higbie, a former Navy SEAL and spokesman for the pro-Trump Great American PAC, told Megyn Kelly that a registry is perfectly legal–“We did it during World War II with Japanese”–and that we need to protect America. Kelly seemed taken aback at the comment and did her best to challenge him, saying, “That’s the kind of stuff that gets people scared, Carl.”

About 120,000 people of Japanese descent were relocated from their homes to internment camps by force in 1942. Of those, 62 percent were citizens, and taken away based only on their ethnicity. This happened on orders from President Roosevelt, and in 1944 the Supreme Court upheld the order. It still stands, because no similar case has come before the court since then, but it is hard to believe something like that could ever happen again. Late Justice Antonin Scalia has said it was one of the most shameful mistakes in the Court’s history. Justice Stephen G. Breyer has said it has been “so thoroughly discredited” that it is “hard to conceive of any future court referring to it favorably or relying on it.”

Higbie said that people from other countries have no constitutional rights in America. He didn’t seem to understand that when you gain legal permanent residency or citizenship, you do. According to Slate, even an illegal immigrant has basic human rights in the U.S. For example, the right to a just, public and speedy trial, as defined under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

However, immigration law is separate from criminal law, that is why immigrants who commit crimes could be deported instead of going jail. But even then, they are entitled to a hearing and a lawyer. Yet Higbie stood by his opinion that immigrants have no rights.

One famous voice who has talked about the atrocities of internment camps for Japanese citizens is George Takei, who held a TED Talk about it.

Trump himself hasn’t commented on Higbie’s statement or what he thinks about internment camps. But in December of last year he claimed that he didn’t know if he would have opposed to the camps in the U.S., saying “I would have had to be there at the time to give you a proper answer.” This doesn’t sound promising.

Emma Von Zeipel
Emma Von Zeipel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. She is originally from one of the islands of Stockholm, Sweden. After working for Democratic Voice of Burma in Thailand, she ended up in New York City. She has a BA in journalism from Stockholm University and is passionate about human rights, good books, horses, and European chocolate. Contact Emma at EVonZeipel@LawStreetMedia.com.



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