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PROVIDING FOR EQUALITY UNDER NATURALIZATION
AND IMMIGRATION LAWS
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21, 1948
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY,
Washington, D. C. The subcommittee met at 10 a. m., Hon. Frank Fellows presiding:
Mr. Fellows. If the committee will come to order, we will proceed with further consideration of this proposed legislation, H. R. 5004.
This morning we have on our list the Honorable Bertrand W. Gearhart, a Member of Congress from California.
STATEMENT OF HON. BERTRAND W. GEARHART, A REPRESENTA.
TIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. GEARHART. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I want to thank the committee for this privilege of appearing before you this morning in supoprt of this legislation. Others in this room are far more familiar with the technical provisions of the bill than I could possibly be. In the interest of brevity, and in recognition of their special knowledge of this general subject, I am passing over that phase of this inquiry. I know the measure has been very carefully analyzed by Dr. Judd in his presentation of last Monday. In the confidence that the immigration authorities will call the attention of the committee to any imperfections that might require correction, I will, with the committee's indulgence discuss the policies that are necessarily involved.
The spirit of the legislation is what has brought me here to raise my voice in support of what I think constitutes a modernization in our attitudes toward these recurring questions of immigration and naturalization, a modernization which has occurred in public thinking as a consequence of demonstrations of loyalty to our country by the so-called ineligible races during its great days of crisis.
I realize that the great share of the benefits which this act will carry will go to those of Japanese descent, and it is that phase of the bill that interests me the most. It is because I think we will be lifting from our minds an unreasoning prejudice which has oppressed us no end down through the years by the adoption of this legislation that inspires me to raise my voice in its support.
I have been raised among Japanese in great numbers. Years ago in the days of my childhood they began to settle around me, principally as farmers, people interested in the agricultural industry. As
time progressed, they were seen more frequently in the business and the professions of the community.
In all of our civic enterprises they were foremost in the promotional end. They always took a leading part in all of our patriotic celebrations. In the promotion of the general welfare, their cooperation was always generous and complete. As far as their record is concerned, it was one which should have instilled confidence, but, for reasons based upon fear, and I think in most cases now, looking back through the years, it was an unreasoning fear, we could not open our hearts to them and receive them with that ease of manner as we do and have done in the days gone by, in the case of those who came to live with us from other sections of the world.
But we did like them personally; every one of us was glad to call many of them personal friends. In business transactions they were as honest and as scrupulous as any group could possibly be. But, still there lurked in our minds a fear based upon a fact which we could not disregard, that is, that there was a great and unfriendly power rising in the Far East which we thought might have a greater claim on their loyalties, than any they might feel for the country that had offered them hospitality, a home, and opportunities far greater than any nation could offer.
That is a fear that has been completely disabused in the light of a great experience, an experience which must have been a very, very difficult one for those of Japanese descent, certainly a great and a difficult experience for Americans as well.
We have come through that war, and the record fails to disclose a single act of sabotage or disloyalty which can be charged against this race, save those who have foresworn their allegiance to our flag and taken up arms with the enemy. On the contrary, there is evidence defying contradiction of the undivided loyalty of the vast majority of their numbers to our cause. Their sacrifice, when measured in percentages, was very much greater than that of any other people who have come from afar to live with us here.
In my own country we had an actual demonstration, a demonstration of loyalty by these people, the nisei, as they are known. A recent survey conducted by the United Veterans of Fresno, an organization of World War II veterans, reveals that there are approximately 862 returned Nisei veterans who have reestablished themselves in central California. Among these there is 1 holder of the Distinguished Service Cross, 8 holders of the Silver Star, 46 holders of the Bronze Star, 236 holders of the Purple Heart, and a number, estimated to be about 351, who have been awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
This survey further reveals the sad information that 27 of this Nisei contingent died in the service of the country that has denied their parents citizenship.
That is the nisei record of my home county. That is a most impressive demonstration of the loyalty, the bravery and the courage of these boys of Japanese descent, a demonstration that they are just as worthy of American citizenship as a race as are any of those who have their roots in European soil.
I have in my hands here a statement which I would like to read. It is entitled "The Japanese American Creed.” It was engrossed under the imprimatur of the Japanese American Citizens League, an organization headquartered in Salt Lake City. I quote:
I am proud that I am an American citizen of Japanese ancestry, for my very background makes me appreciate more fully the wonderful advantages of this Nation.
I believe in her institutions, ideals, and traditions. I glory in her heritage. I boast of her history. I trust in her future. She has granted me liberties and opportunities such as no individual enjoys in this world today. She has given me an education befitting kings. She has entrusted me with the responsibilities of the franchise. She has permitted me to build a home, to earn a livelihood, to worship, think, speak, and act as I please, as a free man, equal to every other man.
Although some individuals may discriminate against me, I shall never become bitter or lose faith, for I know that such persons are not representative of the majority of the American people. True, I shall do all in my power to discourage such practices, but I shall do it in the American way-aboveboard, in the open, through courts of law, by education, by proving myself to be worthy fo equal treatment and consideration.
I am firm in my belief that American sportsmanship, an attitude of fair play, will judge citizenship and patriotism on the basis of action and achievement and not on the basis of physical characteristics.
Because I believe in America and I trust she believes in me, and because I have received innumerable benefits from her, I pledge myself to do honor to her at all times and in all places, to support her constitution, to obey her laws, to respect her flag, to defend her against all enemies foreign or domestic, to actively assume my duties and obligations as a citizen cheerfully and without any reservations whatsoever, in the hope that I may become a better American in a greater America.
The man who wrote that is in this room today.
Mr. Fellows. That is a beautiful thing, Mr. Congressman. I wish we could have a hundred million of those copies and let everybody read it.
Mr. GEARHART. I agree with you. I am glad to honor Mr. Mike Masaoka by calling your attention to the fact that it was his patriotic pen from which those noble sentiments emanated.
Now, the war has come; it has been concluded with a great victory. These people have demonstrated their loyalty, demonstrated it far beyond the call of duty. We no longer have that fear in our hearts that we once entertained without reason. Today we have opened our hearts in California to the Japanese. We wish them no ill.
That has been demonstrated by decisions of our courts which are lessening the importance of all the prejudice legislation of the days gone by. It was demonstrated at the polls where the people were asked in an initiative measure to strengthen the so-called alien land law. The people voted 2,000,000 strong on that issue and gave a majority of nearly 400,000 against the strengthening of that law.
I am confident that if they had the opportunity to vote for its repeal the people of California would march to the polls and repeal it outright by a majority of half a million or more. Such has been the change in public thinking.
So, let us pass this legislation. Let us embrace these new principles, because they are enlightened principles. These people are here; a handful more will come. Let them become citizens, because they have demonstrated their trustworthiness, because we know that they are worthy, because they are the kind of people we like to live next to.
So, I pass from that phase of it to say that we have practically accomplished the objective by the piecemeal process which this biil would finally achieve. We have whittled down the prejudices against race one by one. We have lifted that prejudice as far as the Filipinos are concerned, as far as the Chinese are concerned, as far as the Hindus are concerned. So, there is no color line any more in citizenship.
A few years ago I was very active in assisting a fellow Californian, Representative Clarence F. Lea, in inducing the Congress to amend the nationality law to permit orientals to become American citizens upon their entering into the military service of the United States. As a consequence of our collaboration, the Congress passed a law declaring in no uncertain terms that all soldiers, sailors, and marines who entered out wartime military service might become citizens without meeting the usual preceding technical requirements. A similar law, in general terms, had already passed the Congress and it was thought that it applied to the orientals as well as those who were of the blood of the Occident.
But, the Supreme Court, in considering that legislation, had held that it would take affirmative action from Congress declaring a new policy in respect to race before the privilege of citizenship could be extended to persons of the yellow race.
And so Mr. Lea introduced a bill to accomplish exactly that, a bill which I at that time vigorously supported, and, as a result of the enactment of that legislation, over 700 orientals, many of them Japanese, became citizens of the United States by virtue of their service in World War I.
So the color line has long since gone; the racial line has long since disappeared. It is just a question of lifting a discrimination against a race from a certain nation whose friendship we may need very, very much in the days that lie ahead.
In the interest of national defense we should lift this discrimination against these far eastern people who may mean so much to us in the saving of civilization and the perpetuation of our democratic institutions in the uncertain days that lie ahead.
We want them on our side when the great test comes. Is this not the time to extend the hand of friendship?
So I am going to close my remarks today by quoting from the Second Inaugural Address of our martyred President, Abraham Lincoln, greatest humanitarian of them all. It seems to me particularly apropos:
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the Nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan-- to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
That is the spirit, I think with which we should approach the consideration of this legislation.
Mr. FELLOWS. Mr. Gearhart, you have given us a very fine statement. Thank you.
Dr. Judd, would you want to say a few words?
STATEMENT OF HON. WALTER H. JUDD, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MINNESOTA
Mr. Judd. There are some statements, Mr. Chairman, I should like to put in the record at this time from people who could not come in person. Two or three of them that are short are so important and the people who wrote them are such eminent authorities that I ask the committee's permission to read them, if I may.
Mr. FELLOWs. You may.
Mr. JUDD. The first is from Mr. John J. McCloy, now head of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, who was Under Secretary of War during World War II. He himself was unable to come, and so he sent this statement. [Reading:]
MY DEAR CONGRESSMAN: I have noticed that you have introduced a bill, known as H. R. 5004, to eliminate certain racial discrimination in our naturalization and immigration laws. I have not examined with any particularity the actual procedures and provisions of the bill, but I have read it through and am aware of its general import.
As a member of an international agency I suppose it is somewhat inappropriate for me to be commenting on national legislation, but I had such intimate contact with the Japanese-American population in Hawaii and on the mainland during the war period that I cannot refrain from writing to you. I believe legislation such as this, at least as it affects the interests of the Japanese-Americans, is only an appropriate form of recognition for the loyalty which Japanese-Americans as a whole evidenced to this country during the war.
As you perhaps know, I was very much involved in the movement of the Japanese-American population from the west coast in the early days of the war. The measure which was taken was harsh and very difficult to carry out. It was done, I believe, in the best interests of the country and of the Japanese-Americans themselves. Every effort was made that could be made to soften the impact on that population of this forced movement but, with all the precautions and all the considerations that were given, at best it was an unfortunate necessity and worked many hardships.
During this difficult period I came in contact with the leaders of that population and visited the camps on several occasions. The behavior of these people made it possible to carry out the measure without, I should say, any serious incident. They were cooperative and their conduct, barring a very few who I believe would not be involved in the benefits of this legislation, was exemplary and provoked my admiration as it did many others who came in contact with them.
Subsequently I took an active part in urging the Army to form the JapaneseAmerican battalions and followed their organization very closely. There is nothing I did in my service in the War Department in which I took greater satisfaction than this. The record of the Nisei battalions is one of the most spectacular of all our military units. They endured many hard and even bitter campaigns. Their record shows that they won at least as many, if not more, decorations for bravery as any units of the same size in the entire Army.
In every respect they performed their fullest duty to the country. Their casualties were heavy and I think that their conduct and the conduct of the Japanese-Americans in Hawaii and elsewhere throughout the United States is the strongest evidence one could ask for of their full loyalty to the country.
As I have said at the beginning, it would seem to me that your proposed legislation would be a most fitting acknowledgment of the service and conduct of the Japanese-Americans during the recent war.
The second is a letter from Gen. Mark Clark, who was in command of most of our Japanese-American troops both in Italy and in France during the war. (Reading:)
DEAR MR. Judd: I greatly appreciate the invitation to appear before the Eightieth Congress regarding House Resolution 5004. I appreciate this opportunity but regret that due to the distance and the multitudinous military duties of the moment, I am unable at this time to make the trip to Washington.
I may interject to say he is at present in charge of the headquarters of the Sixth Army, the Presidio at San Francisco, Calif.
Continuing with his letter, he said (reading): Therefore, I am sending herewith a statement which expresses my views favoring the Judd bill, and I want you to know how delighted I am to do this, because of the magnificent combat record of the nisei who fought under my command in Italy. No officer has commanded braver, more courageous troops in combat.
His statement enlarges upon that combat record, and I ask permission that it be placed in the record at this point.