Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who is of mixed-Japanese descent, expressed concern about comments reported in national media last week that justify the creation of a national Muslim registry, citing the Japanese internment during World War II as legal precedent.
An Aspen-Rodel Fellow, Reyes learned of the comments upon return from the three-day Aspen Institute seminar on public policy and civility, and provided the following statement:
“When President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act in 1988, apologizing for the Japanese internment during World War II, it was a significant acknowledgment of the humiliation, degradation, and pain suffered by thousands in the Japanese-American community, including some of my own friends and family. These were loyal American citizens stripped of their rights, freedom, and hard-earned property based solely on heritage.
“Reference to the Japanese internment as a legal prerogative for any policy is offensive and counter to the highest ideals to which we aspire as a nation. I join in President Reagan’s past recognition of the injustice of the Japanese internment, as well as in President-elect Donald Trump’s rejection of the formulation of a registry or system that tracks individuals based on their religion.
“Like many Americans, I too am gravely concerned about national security and the threat of radical groups that would do us harm. And, collectively, we will continue to grapple with difficult decisions balancing the safety of our country and the liberties to which we are all entitled. The justification for whatever policies we adopt cannot be rooted in the Japanese internment or any of the other darkest mistakes in our nation’s history, from slavery and segregation to sterilization and extermination. These are not the ideals of a free people.”