The Senate immigration bill could mean reparations for German Nazis. No, I’m not making this up. Look at Title IX, the “Study of War Time Treatment of Certain People,” also cited as the “Wartime Treatment Study Act,” Sections 901-916, pages 409-415 available through the Heritage Foundation.
Let me offer some background: When fascist Germany and Italy declared war on the United States two days after the Pearl Harbor attack, German and Italian citizens living in the United States became enemy aliens. Likewise, American citizens living in Germany and Italy became enemy aliens. The Americans and the two Axis powers repatriated and exchanged many of each other’s citizens, but some enemy aliens were interned in all three countries. In the United States, the vast majority of Italian and German citizens were not interned.
The Senate immigration bill would establishe a Commission on Wartime Treatment of European Americans to investigate U.S. policies that the bill describes as “devastating to the Italian American and German American communities.”
Section 903 declares that, the “term German Americans” includes “resident aliens of German ancestry” who numbered about 300,000 in total. The same definition is used for the term Italian American.
Let us say there was a man named Helmut Goering, nephew of Herman, and let’s also imagine Helmut was a German citizen and fervent member of the Nazi party, but also a legal resident alien working in the United States in December, 1941. According to the immigration bill’s sponsors, Herr Goering is a “German American” who, apparently, has suffered “discrimination.”
Let’s be clear: These people are not “German-Americans,” or “Americans” of any kind. And we are supposed to trust the Grand Bargainers with the whole issue of amnesty (sorry, “earned legalization”) for 12-20 million illegal immigrants, when the architects of the “compromise” either don’t know, or deliberately obfuscate, the difference between resident aliens and American citizens?
According to the Grand Bargainers, not only were U.S. policies “devastating” to “Italian American” and “German American communities,” but, in addition, they tell us: “The detrimental effects are still being experienced today.” Nonsense. Does any serious person actually believe this? I never heard a word of this “devastation” from either of my grandmothers, who were both technically “enemy aliens,” or from scores of older Italian relatives, or from anyone in the “Little Italies” anywhere in the U.S.
As in any government policy, there are bureaucratic mishaps and high-handedness here and there, but the language of the immigration bill (“devastating,” “detrimental,” “many who suffered”), implies that there were major human rights violations against American citizens of European descent during World War II. This is simply false, and is clearly different from the internment of Japanese American citizens. And why is any of this in Kennedy-Bush-Kyl to begin with?
The would-be Commission on Wartime Treatment of European Americans is to consist of “two members representing the interests of Italian-Americans and two members representing the interests of German-Americans.” They will, no doubt, be drawn from a tiny group of activists who have been working for the past several years to achieve the coveted status of victimhood.
One task of the Commission is “a recommendation of appropriate remedies.” This is an open invitation for reparations for former German and Italian resident aliens and their relatives. Moreover, there is nothing to indicate this would not include former members of the Nazi and Fascist parties.
The commission is also called upon to provide an “assessment of the continued viability of the Alien Enemies Act” — in other words, to question whether we should weaken or eliminate internal security law during the Global War on Terror. Were Chertoff and Kyl sleeping during this part of the negotiations?
The bill also calls for “public education programs related to the United States Government’s wartime treatment of European Americans.” The subtext is that our schools should recognize yet another group allegedly victimized by an American democratic regime fighting for its life against fascists.
This section of the Kennedy-Bush-Kyl immigration bill is a textbook case of what happens to legislation that is created in secret, without hearings, and with only limited debate. These six pages reveal the politically correct mind-set animating this 418-page monstrosity.
My Hudson colleague John O’Sullivan recently quoted the famous British historian, Louis Namier, “In a drop of rain can be seen all the colors of the rainbow.” That’s your immigration bill.
– John Fonte is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.