FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CR
FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 1998 (202) 616-2777
TDD (202) 514-1888
JAPANESE LATIN AMERICANS TO RECEIVE COMPENSATION FOR INTERNMENT DURING WORLD WAR II
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Nearly 600 Japanese Latin Americans who were interned during World War II will each be able to receive $5,000 and an apology under an agreement reached today with the Justice Department.
Today's agreement resolves a 1996 civil suit filed by five Japanese Latin Americans who were deported from their homes in Latin America during World War II and held in internment camps in the United States. The five, who had been denied redress under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, claimed that they deserved to be compensated along with Japanese American internees during the war.
"This was a tragic chapter in the history of our nation," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "It's time to right this wrong and close the book."
The Civil Liberties Act, which was signed into law on August 10, 1988, acknowledges, apologizes, and makes restitution for the fundamental injustice of the evacuation, relocation and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Under the law, claimants can receive compensation if they were alive at the time of the signing of the law, were a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien during internment, and are a person of Japanese ancestry or the spouse or parent of a person of Japanese ancestry.
The Justice Department's Office of Redress Administration (ORA) is charged with administering the 10 year program which ends on August 10, 1998.
During the war, Latin American nations deported more than 2,000 of their citizens or residents of Japanese ancestry to the United States to be held in internment camps. Over the past eight years, ORA denied the claims of many of these internees because they were not U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens during their internment, as the law requires. After ORA's rulings, the five individuals filed suit on behalf of all Japanese Latin Americans who were interned under similar circumstances.
Under today's settlement, these internees will each receive $5,000, to the extent funds are available, as well as an apology.
To date, ORA has received approximately 600 claims from Japanese Latin Americans who have been denied redress under the Act. The plaintiffs estimated that more than 2,000 Japanese Latin Americans were interned during the war, but that only 1,300 may still be living.
The program has paid out nearly $1.65 billion in reparations to 81,664 eligible claimants. More than $11 million now remains in the redress fund.
"Time is running out," said Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Bill Lann Lee. "I urge anyone who may be eligible to come forward soon."
In February, Reno announced that six months remained in the redress program and urged any potential claimant to come forward. Since her announcement nearly 400 claimants have been compensated.
"We will work hard to reach any Japanese Latin American who may be eligible under this settlement," said DeDe Greene, ORA Administrator. "As long as there's time, we will keep searching for claimants."
Persons who may be eligible for payments under this settlement but who have not yet come forward will need to postmark their claims by August 10, 1998. Claims must be received by September 4."
To contact ORA for information, please leave a message on the 24 hour, toll-free Help line at 1-888-219-6900, or internationally call 1-202-219-6900; or write the Office of Redress Administration at P.O. Box 66260, Washington, D.C. 20035-6260; or visit the Justice Department web site at: http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ora/main.html
ORA requests that individuals provide the following information, if know: full name, name used during the internment period, date of birth and place of birth, place of internment, current address and telephone number.
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