Emil Guillermo: Phil Tajitsu Nash remembers the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 & the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans
February 19, 2017 11:13 AM

February 19 is the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin Roosevelt. It was the start of a nightmare for Japanese Americans who were rounded up and placed in internment camps during World War II.

How did it happen? And could it happen again to another group? 

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Phil Tajitsu Nash is an Asian American history professor at the University of Maryland, a civil rights lawyer, and a board member of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

He talks about how Roosevelt came to sign Executive Order 9066, despite information that should have negated any sense that Japanese Americans represented a threat.

He also talks about how the internment personally impacted his family.



You can also read about civil rights icon Fred Korematsu on the AALDEF blog:  "In a Trump era, Fred Korematsu matters more today than ever" (2017) and "Happy FK Day! For Fred Korematsu, of course" (2015), and "Why we all must remember Fred T. Korematsu (2011).

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.

Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


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Emil Guillermo: Trump gets trumped by federal judges out west, and a new PODCAST-- In Virginia, a judge protects a Filipino American's rights
February 13, 2017 4:14 PM

The man who should be called Twitter Trump, the current White House resident, recently learned a lesson when he found out federal district judges are more than "so-called judges." 

And those 9th Circuit appeals court judges, they're no pushovers either.

They know an abuse of power when they see one, as they ruled 3-0 to uphold the temporary restraining order by a Seattle federal judge that halted Trump's travel ban on people from seven majority Muslim nations.
 
Almost immediately, Trump tweeted, "SEE YOU IN COURT!"

But later, Trump (presumably after he recovered from his own personal power failure) made the decision not to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

When a business person used to seeing himself as omnipotent becomes more of a public servant than CEO, the on-the-job-training period can be painful.

But Trump's lesson on the federal judiciary was also a reminder for all of us.

Power is not absolute in a government of checks and balances.

Certainly, the lesson was not lost on Dr. Allan Bergano. A dentist from Virginia Beach, Virginia, Bergano is a friend of mine through the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS). Along with his wife, Edwina, he is cheering loudly after they visited federal court last week. 

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[LISTEN to my podcast interview with Dr. Allan Bergano, who sued to defend his rights.]

In court, the Berganos got the Trump lesson, but from the perspective of the little guy. Bergano learned the Isley Brothers were right. You can fight the power. 

And when you're right, the federal judiciary will back you up.

Such was the case for Bergano after an ordeal that began in July 2014 when the building he leased for his longtime dental practice was affected by a road widening in that city. Virginia Beach officials told him he could leave within a year and settle for $75,000. Or he could try to get what other dentists got for relocation benefits--anywhere from $280,000 to $550,000.

It took him a long while to find a suitable new location, but when he went to Virginia Beach officials for relocation costs in Jan. 2015, the city gave him a brochure with the words, "Eminent Domain."

And then the city, facing a budget crunch, changed its mind and told Bergano he didn't have to leave after all. 

By then, the city had changed the nature of the rest of his office complex, moving out older business tenants and putting in social service offices whose clientele created a different atmosphere for Bergano's family dental practice. 

And besides, he had put things in motion for the new location. He had spent time and money. He couldn't stay put. 

Bergano challenged the city's decision, but the city told him there was no appeal. 

None.

"They were saying I wasn't displaced," Bergano told me.

On top of it all, Bergano and his wife, Edwina, found themselves "homeless" after a fire burned down their condo.

Bergano decided to fight city hall and got a lawyer. But fueling his ire was his sense of history of how Filipinos on the west coast faced discrimination in the 1920s and '30s.
 
Like me, Bergano is the son of an immigrant who came to the U.S. during that time and suffered the indignities of voicelessness.

Bergano recalled how his father fought hard to get a college education in America, but despite his education found himself taking houseboy jobs in the Seattle area.

That lesson of humility was not lost on Bergano, who also paid for ten years of college and dental school education being an Alaskero, one of the Filipinos who worked up in the canneries by Wards Cove. It helped Bergano to become the first Filipino American to graduate from the University of Washington School of Dentistry.

It was that sense of history, Bergano told me, that provided him the "spiritual momentum" to not give up in his fight with Virginia Beach.

Last Thursday, a federal judge recognized the wrong Bergano had experienced in the eminent domain case.

In federal district court in Norfolk, Judge Henry Morgan, Jr. ruled that Virginia Beach was in violation of Bergano's constitutional rights to due process and equal protection under the law, as well as Virginia's relocation statutes.

Bergano will seek damages this week and hopes to recover his relocation costs, as well as a written apology.

He's elated at the outcome, but admitted to me in our podcast, Emil Guillermo's Amok Takeout, he was scared before testifying last week in federal court.

Access The Takeout: Emil Guillermo's Amok podcast on the AALDEF blog:


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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies



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Emil Guillermo: How a Yemeni girl and her dad missed the Super Bowl, but beat Trump's travel ban--and stressed out their lawyers
February 6, 2017 8:13 AM

It was around half-time of what would turn out to be one of the greatest Super Bowls ever. The Atlanta Falcons were handily beating the New England Patriots 21-3, and everyone thought it was over. (It wasn't.) And then Lady Gaga flew in on a wire to bring things to life, singing, among other things, "God Bless America" and a version of "Born this Way" that altered the line "No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian..." to include the term "transgender." Everyone on Twitter was gaga over #Gaga. And they all seemed to forget about football.
  
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Especially the Atlanta Falcons.

Before "never give up" became the ultimate moral of the Super Bowl LI story, the dominant theme of the televised program seemed to be diversity and "acceptance of others," as ads from Budweiser and 84 Lumber poignantly told American immigration tales. 

Not bad for commercials. 

Meanwhile, the best immigration story of Super Bowl Sunday was happening all over the country at airports like SFO, as immigrants previously blocked by Trump's travel ban on those seven predominantly Muslim countries were coming to America.

Just about the time of Lady Gaga's mic drop performance, 12-year-old Eman Ali and her father Ahmed Ali had just completed a 23-hour journey of nearly 9,000 miles from Yemen, by way of Djibouti.

In a way, they had already won their own Super Bowl.
 
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Once they stepped off the plane, the two were greeted by their attorneys Katy Lewis and Stacey Gartland.

Eman was happiest of all. She was still holding a Yemeni passport, but it had just been stamped at SFO to indicate she was now in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. 

Her dad, Ahmed, 38, was already a naturalized citizen and had been trying for the last seven years to obtain a visa for her to join the family in the U.S.

But then came the Trump executive order.

It took a federal judge in Seattle, the 9th Circuit court of appeals in San Francisco, and some delicate maneuvering finally to get Eman to the U.S.

"Huge relief and very emotionally gratifying," was the way attorney Gartland described to me seeing Eman for the first time. "We met her at the door of the plane with three armed CBP officers. I was afraid she might be scared and overwhelmed, but she was all smiles. She was practically bouncing--excited and happy to meet us. She was super cute. Even the CBP officers got a little teary-eyed."

I've talked to Gartland about this case since last Friday, before, during, and after the temporary restraining order by Judge Robart to halt the ban; and then continuing through the Justice Department's subsequent appeal to the 9th Circuit that came Saturday night. While the court refused to restore the ban right away, the 9th Circuit did allow for more briefs to be filed by February 6 for an emergency stay of the Robart TRO.

As the legal maneuvering ensued, Gartland and Lewis were in a race to get their clients home.

Gartland gave me a behind-the-scenes chronology of Eman's immigrant journey since the travel ban. She had one word for the experience--"Kafka-esque:"

- Visa issued 1/26/17 after 6-year process.  We celebrate, but since we've seen a leaked copy of the executive order (EO), we're worried.  We immediately contact clients to buy airline tickets and to get to US ASAP.

- Clients book airline tickets leaving Djibouti Friday (1/27) morning.  (This is still before EO has come out.)  We celebrate, thinking she'll beat the ban.

- Friday (1/27) afternoon clients call to say they weren't able to board flight because it transited through Canada, Yemenis need transit visas for Canada, and Eman didn't have and couldn't get one that quickly.

- We immediately have clients-re-book airline tickets on a different route, but earliest they can leave is Saturday (1/28) morning.  Right after they re-book flight, the EO comes out.

- We call clients to inform them of the ban and warn them that they will not likely be able to board. Indeed, they are denied boarding.

- We strategize and decide to pursue multiple advocacy efforts simultaneously, including litigation, trying to connect with DHS and/or DOS officials who would have authority to issue waiver exception on case-by-case basis, reaching out to congress people (Senators Feinstein and Harris and Congressman Costa) to push congressional appeal, and reaching out to the press to put pressure on the Trump administration and to highlight the discriminatory nature of the ban.

- Everyone agrees Eman should merit case-by-case exception waiver, but there is no process for review for travelers outside the U.S.  We're frustrated.

- Court TROs also start coming out that should apply to Eman, but airlines are reluctant to honor them until they get guidance from the agencies on who is covered.  Agencies (DOS and DHS) have no process in place to do so.  We're doubly frustrated. 

- We get 90% of the way to getting CBP process in place to notify airlines of individuals who should be able to board airplanes under the various court orders, which apply to subsets of people, when Judge Robart's TRO comes out, which applies to everyone with visas.  We celebrate and immediately book new airline tickets, leaving Saturday (2/4) morning, Djibouti time, which is late evening Friday, California time.  I use our law firm credit card to book flights.

- We arrange with CBP to make sure airlines are notified in advance that Eman is permitted to board. 

- We get confirmation from CBP that notifications to all airlines for all legs of flight are done.  We think we're set.

- Clients call Katy from airport to report that airline says payment for the tickets has been reversed and tickets voided.  This is after midnight CA time and about 1.5 hours before flight is scheduled to leave.  We freak out.

- I call credit card company and Katy calls the airline (Turkish Airlines).  We call from our land lines from our respective homes.  Meanwhile, our husbands are using our cell phones to relay our messages to one another.  Calls to both credit card company and airline get disconnected multiple times, and each time we call back, we're on hold for long time. We're panicking.

- I learn that credit card company flagged transaction as fraud (not surprising -- why would a woman in SF buy airline tickets for two Yemenis in Djibouti?)  But even after I confirm charges and ask them to re-charge, they won't do it unless we re-book airline tickets entirely.

- Meanwhile, Katy tries to re-book tickets using her personal credit card.  Airline says it's too late to do by phone. Says travelers can do from airport service desk, but clients don't have credit card with sufficient credit.

- Clients miss this flight. We find new flight leaving a few hours later. I call credit card company to pre-authorize the charges and plead that they do not reverse charges again. We successfully re-book flight with 3 legs, the first two of which are on Ethiopian Airlines, which has terrible customer service and no presence in US.

- It's now 2:30 am.  We need to notify CBP to ask them to re-notify the airlines with this new flight itinerary.  We have debate about how close to flight time we can safely do this to avoid calling are very helpful CBP contacts in the middle of the night. We decide on 5am, which is 3 hours before flight departure. I send emails and texts in case one of our contacts happens to be awake. No luck. We wait on pins and needles. 

- At 5am (Saturday), I get email from head CBP contact. Not sure what he's doing up this early on his day off, but we're super grateful. He springs into action and makes sure the airlines are notified, but he also warns us that they don't have good communication with Ethiopian Airlines because they don't fly to US. He assigns CBP commander to liaise with us and with airlines, as we expect calls from her to airline will be needed.  He's right--took multiple calls to multiple people.

- Meanwhile, airline is also suspicious about purchase of tickets with my credit card even though authorized by credit card co.  I have to send photo of my credit card and ID to client to show to airline. (This should tell you how much we trust client and how positive we are that they are not dangers to our national security.)

- We sweat bullets worrying that clients will miss this flight too, but they get through in nick of time -- literally 15 minutes before plane is due to take off.

- We go through this same nerve-wracking process for second leg of flight, also on Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Ababa. Clients barely make it onto that flight, after airline supervisor hangs up on CBP commander.

- Meanwhile, DOJ files the appeal of the TRO. We know it is only a matter of time before they seek emergency stay. Clients have long layover in Frankfurt waiting to board United flight.  No issues with airlines or credit cards here, but worried emergency stay will be issued before they get on final flight, stranding her in Germany. She doesn't have visa for anything but transit through Germany. She can't go back to Djibouti because Djibouti visa is expired. She can't go back to war zone in Yemen. We're sweating bullets again watching the 9th Circuit docket (CA time). 

- DOJ files for emergency stay just before 10 pm Saturday (CA time.) Clients aren't scheduled to board plane until 5:00am CA time. We wait nervously to see if immediate stay will be issued.  At 1am, I check court docket and find that immediate stay was denied.  We breathe sigh of relief.

- Katy checks in with client to make sure no issues boarding plane.  CBP checks in with us to confirm clients are on plane.

- Finally plane takes off, and we know clients are home free. 
 
And once they were home, the story went from Kafka to fairy tale, as Gartland's frustrations evaporated when she saw Eman and Ali finally reunited with family at the airport.
 
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"It made me proud of the many good people and community supporters who worked together to make this moment possible," Gartland said. "It gave me hope in what has felt like a hopeless last couple of months."

A happy ending that for me upstaged Super Bowl Sunday. Especially if you were an Atlanta Falcons fan.

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


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Emil Guillermo: UPDATED--Judge Robart's halt of travel ban frees a Yemeni American father and daughter after "Kafka-esque" journey from Djibouti
February 4, 2017 4:21 PM

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UNSTRANDED: Eman Ali, 12, and her father Ahmed, sat before media at San Francisco International Airport on Super Bowl Sunday. They are among the first to travel to America after the travel restrictions from seven predominantly Muslim nations were lifted on Friday. Ahmed Ali is a Yemeni American, but Eman holds a Yemeni passport and was blocked from boarding her flight from Djibouti once the travel ban was in effect Jan. 27. Read the update here.

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On Friday night after a federal judge's order, it was like a steel door had been kicked open, or an imaginary wall torn down.

It was a temporary way out for all the innocents trumped by the executive order like Eman Ali, a 12-year-old girl from Yemen, desperately trying to reunite with her family in their new home, California.;

At that moment, she looked nothing like the frightened girl in the hijab on her Yemeni passport photo, according to her father, Ahmed Ali.
Eman-passportphoto.jpgShe was happy, and so was he.

"We got good news today, we're flying back today," said Ali, 38, a Yemeni American who had been frustrated and stranded in Djibouti since Jan. 27, the first day of the travel ban.

When we spoke by phone, he didn't know anything about what was going on in the U.S. and how a new temporary restraining order from federal district judge James Robart in Seattle had just halted the ban nationwide.

All he knew was what his lawyers, Katy Lewis and Stacey Gartland, told him before I called. He and his daughter, Eman, would be coming home.

"I'm really excited, really happy about it, and I hope everything will go nice and smooth," he told me.

But fluid situations aren't always so smooth, especially in these Trump times.

For a week since the travel ban, Ali and Eman found themselves like many other Yemenis-- stuck in Djibouti, the tiny North African country wedged between Ethiopia and Eritrea to the north, and Somalia to the south. It all looked better than going back across the gulf to war-torn Yemen. Staying put seemed to be the safest way to wait out the ban.
 
It was just another glitch in a journey of glitches.

All their lives, Eman and her family had dutifully followed the law. Her father, a convenience store manager in California's Central Valley, and her mother and siblings are all U.S. citizens. But Eman was born in Yemen during a family visit and held a Yemeni passport. All those years, she stayed behind with relatives as her parents struggled to get her a visa to travel to the U.S. The process was made even more maddening by the war in Yemen and the closure of the U.S. Embassy there.

Finally, after seven years, a visa was obtained. Ali travelled to accompany his daughter to America last month. On that fateful Jan. 27, with tickets in hand, they were ready to board an Ethiopian Airlines flight that would take them to the U.S.

And then Ali heard these words: "Your daughter can't be on the flight because she has a Yemeni passport, and they're not allowed."

Ali was reliving the moment as he talked by phone from Djibouti. "It was really hard, to be honest with you," he said. "After seven years to tell me like this, I was angry, sad at the same time. I was in shock. I didn't know what to do." 

He told me he thought the ban was racist to Muslims and to Yemenis. 

And that the ban would have the exact opposite effect on law-abiding Muslims.

"I think it makes them more angry at the U.S.," said Ali, a practicing Muslim. "It wasn't fair to do that [travel ban]. And it wasn't fair to all the kids. When I was [at the airport], there were 10 kids from three families."

All of them were turned away, rejected because of the executive order.

And then on Friday, it was like none of that bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo had ever existed.

All it took was the signature of Judge Robart, not a "so-called judge," as Trump tweeted, but an actual U.S. District Judge in Seattle, an appointee of George W. Bush.

Judge Robart adhered to his duty to uphold the Constitution and granted Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson's request for a temporary restraining order, halting Trump's executive order barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations.

It was just the latest twist. 

Hours before, another judge in Boston, U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton, had disappointed many when he cited "the public interest in safety and security" and refused to extend a seven-day ban on Trump's executive order.

But lawyers I talked to said Gorton's decision only applied to arrivals at Boston's Logan Airport. There would be other legal irons in the fire to challenge the order, and then shortly thereafter came Robart's TRO.

The Seattle judge effectively stood up to the bully, nullifying Trump's travel ban, and it applied nationwide.

But it seemed more like magic for 12-year old Eman.

Her immigration journey began when she was an even younger girl, sitting in front of her older sister atop a horse in Yemen. Robart's order practically turned that horse into Pegasus.

Finally, she would be flying to America. 
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"Once she comes to the United States, she will become a U.S. citizen; she will derive citizenship upon arrival," Gartland told me. "Her immigration saga will end at that point."

But again, it's becoming clear that nothing in the Trump age comes without a fight. 

After the White House issued a statement that the Department of Justice would file an emergency stay of the order "at the earliest possible time," Trump called Robart's order "ridiculous."

In the meantime, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency had already begun making sure the window stayed open for travel. 

Several groups, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, began urging "immediate" rebooking of flights.

"Once in the air or at SFO, she is not in danger of being returned," Gartland said. "The CBP Director of Field Operations in San Francisco will exercise his authority to grant the waiver exception, should the TRO be stayed."

But as the hours went on from Friday through Saturday, Gartland told me the journey had not been without incident, with constant communication among government officials, airline personnel, and credit card companies. 

"Super stressful Kafka-esque nightmare," Gartland told me in an email, as Ali and Eman continued their 23-hour-long flight to freedom.

Still, there was much optimism that they would be among the first of the once-banned to find their way to America.

Even when the bombastic twit-in-chief tweeted how a lifting of the ban meant "bad and dangerous people" would be "pouring into the country," I kept thinking how the earnest family man whom I talked with the night before from Djibouti would soon reunite his daughter with the rest of his family. 

And when they land, it will mark the end of an incredible journey of nearly 9,000 miles, a triumph of law and the Constitution over the whim of an overreaching Trump.

A true victory, their arrival--as well as that of others previously banned--will serve as an example of the relentless immigrant spirit that truly makes America great. And all of it quite fitting enough to upstage a Super Bowl Sunday.

[Read about the happy ending to this immigration story here.]

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


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Emil Guillermo: In a Trump era, Fred Korematsu matters more today than ever
January 30, 2017 3:06 PM

January 30th is the birthday of a true Asian American hero, Fred Korematsu.

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Since 2011, it's been a designated holiday in California and a few other states. It doesn't get you a day off. In fact, it's a day that reminds you to fight.

It's a a day set aside specifically to remind us that when it comes to civil rights and individual liberties, America can never afford to take even one day off.

It was a bit of karmic grace that the Monday after the most severe of the Trump administration's executive orders to date--the travel ban against refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations--all of us, not just Asian Americans, and partially thanks to Google, find ourselves recalling Korematsu's birthday. 
GoogleDoodle-Fred.jpgAs a young Californian in Oakland, Korematsu was the one who said no to the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.
 
He stood up, resisted, and paid the price in 1942.

When he was arrested for his principled stand, the ACLU took his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The government upheld his conviction and the internment of Japanese Americans, citing "military necessity."

Are you beginning to hear history's echoes?  

Critics have said the Court seemed unwilling to go against the government and President Roosevelt, although three justices dissented. 

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Here's the crazy thing.

To this day, that 1944 decision still stands.

Korematsu lost his constitutional challenge and spent time in an internment camp. But he also found that not only was he shunned by general society and his country at war, he was also shunned by other Japanese Americans in camp who believed he should have shut up and cooperated.

But vindication ultimately would come to Korematsu four decades later.

In 1983, Prof. Peter Irons, a legal historian, discovered government memos that were withheld from the Supreme Court in 1944. The documents revealed an internal struggle within the government on how to present the case. Would it proceed with the Army's contention that Japanese Americans were a threat to national security? Or would it also present information from the FBI and other military intelligence that contradicted the Army?

The Army's perspective prevailed. But Irons said a statement in one military document continued to haunt and fuel the protest. It read: "We are telling lies to the Supreme Court. We have an obligation to tell the truth."

Lies? You mean "alternate facts"? 

The discovery of the suppressed information enabled a group of attorneys, mostly young Japanese Americans, to reopen the case and overturn Korematsu's conviction in 1983 in a federal district court in San Francisco.
 
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Hurray, right?

There was one catch. 

Because the government declined to appeal, the 1944 Supreme Court decision still stands.
Korematsu's legal team couldn't directly challenge the high court's opinion.

"We were stuck at the district court level," said lead attorney Dale Minami. "But we did undercut the factual and legal basis for what the Supreme Court did."

When I talked to Minami a few years ago, it was during the Obama years. He told me it would be ignorant for anyone to use Korematsu as a precedent today for the wholesale imprisonment of people because of their race.

What he didn't imagine then was the possibility of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States.

When Sen. Chuck Schumer called Trump's travel ban "un-American and mean-spirited," and even shed a tear for the refugees blocked by the executive order, Trump mocked him by saying, "Who was his acting coach?"

Now with his SCOTUS pick to be announced this week, Trump appears like some tyrannical "man in full."

We must all remember Korematsu.

Democracy requires our voices now.

FROM KOREMATSU TO TODAY'S CHAOS
On Fox News, Rudy Giuliani admitted that Trump told him he wanted a Muslim ban and asked him how to do it legally.

The hastily-drafted and semi-secretive executive order on the "travel ban" is a result of the Trump administration's toxic twins, the Breitbarter Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller.

There is no specific mention of "Muslim," but the executive order restricts nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Syria.

Maybe Trump doesn't have plans for hotels there.

None of the seven countries have yielded any people responsible for the most notorious terror attacks in America. Oddly, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates were left off the list.

So we have a semi-partial, non-specific Muslim ban that's just a little bit unconstitutional.

But the order does come with Trump's stated preference among "religious minorities" for the immigration of Christians over Muslims.

That's clearly unconstitutional.

Asian Americans know what it's like to be singled out and banned from immigration. From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, to the Japanese and the "Gentleman's Agreement" in 1907, to the Filipinos in 1934 and the Tydings-McDuffie Act, Asians have been the target of America's xenophobia.

It wasn't until President Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, when Congress banned racist country-specific quotas, that Asian immigration was able to flourish.

If you forgot that, maybe you remembered this weekend when the echoes of history became a call to action.

If you were protesting at airports or federal buildings across the nation, great.

Ahmed Ali wishes he could have been with you.

Because of the vague executive order and haphazard communications to those implementing it on the front lines, hundreds of people were detained for hours at American airports over the weekend.

But Ali, 39, a Yemeni American who lives near me in California's Central Valley, wasn't at LAX or SFO.

If Trump were waging a preemptive strike against the people he believes are so-called "bad Muslims," the only ones affected by the executive order seem to be real innocents like Ali.

He was stuck in Djibouti with his 12-year-old daughter at an airport. Officials blocked them from a scheduled Ethiopian Airlines flight that would take them back home to the U.S. 

"The USA is supposed to be the example of freedom," Ali told the newspaper, the Los Banos Enterprise. "Now, where did that freedom go?"

Ali, who has been an American since 2010, was trying to end a seven-year fight to secure a visa for his daughter. Ali, his wife, and two other children are U.S. citizens. But the middle child was born in Yemen and has a Yemeni passport. The visa process has been hindered by the current civil war in Yemen. 

As an example of the "extreme vetting" that already exists, Ali's daughter finally got her visa last Thursday. She then began her amazing journey with an uncle through war-torn Yemen to Jordan. Ali met his daughter and travelled to Djibouti to board their flight to the U.S., where they could be reunited in California with their family.

And then Trump signed his executive order.

"It's kind of more racist and based on religion," Ali told the Enterprise. 

Ali, who works as a convenience store manager, is now stuck abroad. The main breadwinner for his family, he can't get back to work. And he can't go back to Yemen.

He is like all of us---waiting for the world to come to its senses.

So on this day, let's remember Ahmed Ali and Fred Korematsu. 

History's echoes are loud and clear.

It's an urgent call to action as Trump and his xenophobes send America back in history to relearn a lesson Korematsu should have taught us already.

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


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