In December 1944, President Roosevelt suspended Executive Order 9066. Internees were released, often to resettlement facilities and temporary housing, and the camps were shut down by 1946. In the years after the war, the interned Japanese-Americans had to rebuild their lives. United States citizens and long-time residents who had been interned lost their personal liberties; many also lost their homes, businesses, property, and savings. Individuals born in Japan were not allowed to become naturalized US citizens until 1952.

U. S. President Gerald Ford rescinded Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1976. In 1980, U. S. President Jimmy Carter signed legislation to create the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC). The CWRIC was appointed to conduct an official governmental study of Executive Order 9066, related wartime orders, and their impact on Japanese-Americans in the West and Alaska Natives in the Aleutian Islands.

In December 1982, the CWRIC issued its findings in Personal Justice Denied, concluding that the incarceration of Japanese Americans had not been justified by military necessity. The report determined that the decision to incarcerate was based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership". The Commission recommended legislative remedies consisting of an official Government apology and redress payments of $20,000 to each of the survivors; a public education fund was set up to help ensure that this would not happen again (Pub.L. 100–383). On August 10, 1988, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, based on the CWRIC recommendations, was signed into law by Ronald Reagan. On November 21, 1989, George H. W. Bush signed an appropriation bill authorizing payments to be paid out between 1990 and 1998. In 1990, surviving internees began to receive individual redress payments and a letter of apology. This bill applied to the Japanese-Americans and to members of the Aleut people inhabiting the strategic Aleutian Islands in Alaska who were also relocated.

Man asking 'We are Americans, again?'

We are Americans, again?" Sketch by Estelle Ishigo

"As we enter the new year, the lifting of the exclusion order is the bright and shining star of hope for the residents of Heart Mountain." - December 30, 1944 Heart Mountain Sentinel

Image Credits

All Estelle Ishigo drawings are from 1942-1945 at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, courtesy of the American Heritage Center. See more in the AHC's Estelle Ishigo digital collection. Photographs from the digital collections at the AHC. Newspaper images are from Wyoming Newspapers.

Copyright notice: Digitized collection materials are accessible for educational and personal research purposes.

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