By Bruce Rutledge
President Donald J. Trump’s latest budget proposal calls for the elimination of funding for the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grants Program, which pays for projects that illuminate the experience of Japanese Americans who were imprisoned during World War II.
The program has provided more than $21 million in grants since its inception in 2006 for the support of research, interpretation and preservation of sites where Japanese Americans were imprisoned. The law authorized up to $38 million in grants during the life of the program, so eliminating it now would erase a potential for $17 million in grant money to research and preserve a history that seems more relevant today than in decades.
The budget proposal was released in mid-February. The Japanese Amercan Citizens League said in a press release, “It is especially disturbing that this budget proposal be released this week, one week before the 76th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. E.O. 9066 paved the way for the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans for the duration of World War II.”
Some of the funding through the grant program in fiscal 2017 went to support the Go for Broke National Education Center in Los Angeles, which uses monuments, exhibitions and oral history to chronicle this shameful period in American history; the Japanese American National Museum, also in Los Angeles; the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Association; Densho; and the Wing Luke Museum.
If Trump’s budget is approved, the impact on these and other organizations will be profound.