A Roanoke mayor is getting national attention after citing the use of internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II to justify suspending the relocation of Syrian refugees to his city in Virginia.
After requesting that all Roanoke Valley agencies stop Syrian refugee assistance, Mayor David Bowers, a Democrat, wrote in a statement: “I’m reminded that President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from Isis now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.”
The comment has sparked outrage on social media from citizens of Roanoke and the rest of the country — including celebrities.
The Japanese internment camps, which detained about 120,000 Japanese-American men, women and children, are widely remembered as one of the U.S. government’s most shameful acts. More than four decades after World War II, the U.S. government issued a formal apology and paid reparations to former Japanese internees and their heirs.