The Senate's agenda was topped Monday by legislation to compensate the U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry who were forced from their homes and professions and relocated to internment camps during World War II.
The bill before the Senate proposed that the United States formally accept the findings of a commission established in 1980, which called for an apology to the U.S. citizens and resident aliens of Japanese descent who were rounded up as potential security threats after the Pearl Harbor attack Dec. 7, 1941.As written, the bill called for spending about $1.2 billion from 1988 to 1993 to make individual maximum payments of $20,000 to survivors of the resident aliens and Japanese-Americans "confined, held in custody or otherwise deprived of liberty" because of the policy ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Anyone accepting the payment would have to waive any future claim against the government based on its relocation and internment policy during the war. It is estimated that the detention program cost the Japanese-Americans and resident aliens between $149 million and $370 million in income and property.
The bill as written would order the attorney general to review any cases in which living U.S. citizens or resident aliens of Japanese ancestry suffered a criminal conviction because they refused to comply with the relocation. The legislation proposed that these persons receive a presidential pardon.