Immigration

Trump administration plans to transport migrant children to Army base that once served as Japanese internment site

Update: The headline of this article has been updated to reflect the facts of this story more accurately.

One of the darkest chapters of American history, the internment of Japanese-Americans at military installations across the country, has been described numerous times in horrific ways.

Their detainment was unjustly reasoned by the federal government as a necessary move during World War II. Hundreds of thousands were essentially imprisoned on military installations across the country without their due process rights being recognized.

Now, users on social media are voicing their dissatisfaction as the Trump administration announced plans recently to house unaccompanied minors at one of those military installations where Japanese-American citizens were interned nearly eight decades ago.

TIME Magazine reported this week that Fort Sill, a 150-year-old military base near Lawton, Oklahoma, will be used by the Office of Refugee Resettlement as a location to temporarily house migrant children who have crossed the U.S. border from Mexico without parental accompaniment.

More than 56,000 such children have entered the U.S. since the start of this year, and the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the ORR, is struggling to come up with ways to address the influx.

Users on social media, including political leaders, expressed outrage over the announcement.

The use of Fort Sill for such purposes brings to mind to many the unlivable conditions that Japanese-Americans lived under while being detained during World War II. According to the Densho Encyclopedia online, weather conditions were harsh, with winds so strong at night that individuals there had to stay up all night to ensure their tents wouldn’t collapse on them.

Brutal summer temperatures are also a concern — 100-degree temps are a regular fixture at and near the facility.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Fort Sill has been used to house migrant children. In 2014, the Obama administration also used the facility to do so, albeit for only a four-month period before deciding it wasn’t an adequate solution to housing children.

Editor’s note: Some have taken issue with how certain outlets framed this story. Editorial Features Editor for the Wall Street Journal James Toronto pointed out a tweet from The Hill with the headline, “Trump administration to send migrant children to former Japanese internment camp,” saying that leaving out the fact that the site is a long-standing Army base misrepresents the story. Read his Twitter thread below:

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Featured image via screen grab/PBS Newshour

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