WARTIME TREATMENT STUDY ACT


To prevent possible future erosion of our civil liberties, the German American Internee Coalition believes the federal government must fully review and acknowledge its wartime civil liberties violations. The US government has never comprehensively reviewed the German and Italian American experience. On August 3, 2001, Senators Russell Feingold (D-WI) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) originally introduced the European Americans and Refugees Wartime Treatment Study Act in the US Senate, joined by Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Joseph Lieberman. The renamed Wartime Treatment Study Act was introduced for the fourth time on March 10, 2009, at the beginning of the 111th Congress. Unfortunately, it never came to a vote in either the House of Representatives or the Senate and died once again at the end of that Congress in December 2010. It has not been reintroduced, primarily due to Sen. Feingold's loss of his Senate seat in the November 2010 elections. Reintroduction is not anticipated at this time. Sadly, it appears that the remaining elderly German internees' dream of federal recognition may never be realized. 

For historical purposes, information regarding the legislation is set forth below. The bill numbers indicated relate to the most recent versions of the Wartime Treatment Study Act as introduced in 2009. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@gaic.info.

The text of the WARTIME TREATMENT STUDY ACT follows. The Senate's companion bill, S. 564, is identical. If you would like an Adobe Acrobat pdf version of H.R. 1425, please click here. If you would like a pdf version of S. 564, please click here.

Legislative Action during the 111th Congress

On March 10, 2009, the Wartime Treatment Study Act was introduced in the House and the Senate concurrently. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committees of the House and Senate. On March 19, 2009, the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, chaired by Zoe Lofgren (CA-16) with Ranking Member Steven King (IA-5), convened a hearing focused on the U.S. treatment of European Americans and Latin Americans, Japanese Latin Americans, and Jewish refugees during World War II. The hearing was an opportunity for supporters of the Wartime Treatment Study Act (H.R. 1425) to provide the Committee with historical background on both the Alien Enemy Control Program (AECP) and the Latin American Special War Problems Division, detail the pain and suffering these programs caused to families, and answer questions about related issues.

For a complete report on the hearing, please click here. Written statements and the hearing video are now available on the House Judiciary Committee website. The Immigration Subcommittee released the related hearing report in July. To view, click here.

On July 31, 2009, following a markup hearing on HR 1425, the subcommittee reported the bill favorably to the House Judiciary Committee, with one minor amendment, by a 9 to 1 vote. The six Democrats and three Republicans voting in favor of the bill represented a strong bipartisan endorsement of the Wartime Treatment Study Act by the subcommittee. You may view a webcast of the markup here by clicking on the link entitled Video Webcast. On October 21, 2009, the House Judiciary Committee reported the bill favorably to the House floor after its markup hearing with two technical amendments with a 19-7 bipartisan vote.  The bill was never voted upon by the House.  Despite having been voted favorably out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in four previous Congresses, originally in 2001, our legislation died in the 111th Congress never having been voted out of committee.  The Wartime Treatment Study Act died in December 2010.  There are no current plans for reintroduction. 

Legislative Action during the 110th Congress

 In the 110th Congress, on May 4, 2007, the Senate Judiciary Committee issued a report on the Wartime Treatment Study Act. This report was issued in connection with the Judiciary Committee's favorable vote to report the legislation to the Senate on April 12, 2007. To read the Senate Judiciary Committee report, please click here.

On May 24, 2007, Senator Russ Feingold offered the Wartime Treatment Study Act as an amendment (No. 1176) to the immigration reform bill, S. 1348.  For the text of Sen. Feingold's May 24 speech, please click here.

On June 5, 2007, the US Senate resoundingly passed S. 621 by a vote of 67 to 26. The bill passed as an amendment to S. 1348, the comprehensive immigration bill which thus far has failed to pass the Senate. To read Sen. Feingold's statement regarding the passage of S. 621, please click here. To read Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-IA) press release regarding the passage of S. 621, please click here.

                
Wartime Treatment Study Act -- HR 1425      

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 1425

To establish commissions to review the facts and circumstances surrounding injustices suffered by European Americans, European Latin Americans, and Jewish refugees during World War II.

 

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

March 10, 2009

Mr. WEXLER (for himself, Ms. BORDALLO, Mr. GRIJALVA, Mr. HOLT, Mr. HONDA, Mr. KIRK, Mr. ROTHMAN of New Jersey, Mr. SIRES, Mr. BOSWELL, Mr. GUTIERREZ, and Mr. MCMAHON) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Appropriations, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


A BILL

To establish commissions to review the facts and circumstances surrounding injustices suffered by European Americans, European Latin Americans, and Jewish refugees during World War II.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Wartime Treatment Study Act'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress makes the following findings:

(1) During World War II, the United States Government deemed as `enemy aliens' more than 600,000 Italian-born and 300,000 German-born United States resident aliens and their families, requiring them to carry Certificates of Identification and limiting their travel and personal property rights. At that time, these groups were the two largest foreign-born groups in the United States.

(2) During World War II, the United States Government arrested, interned, or otherwise detained thousands of European Americans, some remaining in custody for years after cessation of World War II hostilities, and repatriated, exchanged, or deported European Americans, including American-born children, to European Axis nations, many to be exchanged for Americans held in those nations.

(3) Pursuant to a policy coordinated by the United States with Latin American nations, thousands of European Latin Americans, including German and Austrian Jews, were arrested, relocated to the United States, and interned. Many were later repatriated or deported to European Axis nations during World War II and exchanged for Americans and Latin Americans held in those nations.

(4) Millions of European Americans served in the armed forces and thousands sacrificed their lives in defense of the United States.

(5) The wartime policies of the United States Government were devastating to the German American and Italian American communities, individuals, and their families. The detrimental effects are still being experienced.

(6) Prior to and during World War II, the United States restricted the entry of Jewish refugees who were fleeing persecution or genocide and sought safety in the United States. During the 1930s and 1940s, the quota system, immigration regulations, visa requirements, and the time required to process visa applications affected the number of Jewish refugees, particularly those from Germany and Austria, who could gain admittance to the United States.

(7) The United States Government should conduct an independent review to fully assess and acknowledge these actions. Congress has previously reviewed the United States Government's wartime treatment of Japanese Americans through the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. An independent review of the treatment of German Americans and Italian Americans and of Jewish refugees fleeing persecution and genocide has not yet been undertaken.

(8) Time is of the essence for the establishment of commissions, because of the increasing danger of destruction and loss of relevant documents, the advanced age of potential witnesses and, most importantly, the advanced age of those affected by the United States Government's policies. Many who suffered have already passed away and will never know of this effort.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

In this Act:

(1) DURING WORLD WAR II- The term `during World War II' refers to the period between September 1, 1939, through December 31, 1948.

(2) EUROPEAN AMERICANS-

(A) IN GENERAL- The term `European Americans' refers to United States citizens and resident aliens of European ancestry, including Italian Americans, German Americans, Hungarian Americans, Romanian Americans, and Bulgarian Americans.

(B) GERMAN AMERICANS- The term `German Americans' refers to United States citizens and resident aliens of German ancestry.

(C) ITALIAN AMERICANS- The term `Italian Americans' refers to United States citizens and resident aliens of Italian ancestry.

(3) EUROPEAN LATIN AMERICANS- The term `European Latin Americans' refers to persons of European ancestry, including German or Italian ancestry, residing in a Latin American nation during World War II.

(4) LATIN AMERICAN NATION- The term `Latin American nation' refers to any nation in Central America, South America, or the Caribbean.

TITLE I--COMMISSION ON WARTIME TREATMENT OF EUROPEAN AMERICANS

SEC. 101. ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION ON WARTIME TREATMENT OF EUROPEAN AMERICANS.

(a) In General- There is established the Commission on Wartime Treatment of European Americans (referred to in this title as the `European American Commission').

(b) Membership- The European American Commission shall be composed of 7 members, who shall be appointed not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act as follows:

(1) Three members shall be appointed by the President.

(2) Two members shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, in consultation with the minority leader.

(3) Two members shall be appointed by the majority leader of the Senate, in consultation with the minority leader.

(c) Terms- The term of office for members shall be for the life of the European American Commission. A vacancy in the European American Commission shall not affect its powers, and shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made.

(d) Representation- The European American Commission shall include 2 members representing the interests of Italian Americans and two members representing the interests of German Americans.

(e) Meetings- The President shall call the first meeting of the European American Commission not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

(f) Quorum- Four members of the European American Commission shall constitute a quorum, but a lesser number may hold hearings.

(g) Chairman- The European American Commission shall elect a Chairman and Vice Chairman from among its members. The term of office of each shall be for the life of the European American Commission.

(h) Compensation-

(1) IN GENERAL- Members of the European American Commission shall serve without pay.

(2) REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES- All members of the European American Commission shall be reimbursed for reasonable travel and subsistence, and other reasonable and necessary expenses incurred by them in the performance of their duties.

SEC. 102. DUTIES OF THE EUROPEAN AMERICAN COMMISSION.

(a) In General- It shall be the duty of the European American Commission to review the United States Government's wartime treatment of European Americans and European Latin Americans as provided in subsection (b).

(b) Scope of Review- The European American Commission's review shall include the following:

(1) A comprehensive review of the facts and circumstances surrounding United States Government action during World War II with respect to European Americans and European Latin Americans pursuant to United States laws and directives, including the Alien Enemies Acts (50 U.S.C. 21 et seq.), Presidential Proclamations 2526, 2527, 2655, 2662, and 2685, Executive Orders 9066 and 9095, and any directive of the United States Government pursuant to these and other pertinent laws, proclamations, or executive orders, including registration requirements, travel and property restrictions, establishment of restricted areas, raids, arrests, internment, exclusion, policies relating to the families and property that excludees and internees were forced to abandon, internee employment by American companies (including a list of such companies and the terms and type of employment), exchange, repatriation, and deportation, and the immediate and long-term effect of such actions, particularly internment, on the lives of those affected. This review shall also include a list of--

(A) all temporary detention and long-term internment facilities in the United States and Latin American nations that were used to detain or intern European Americans and European Latin Americans during World War II (in this paragraph referred to as `World War II detention facilities');

(B) the names of European Americans and European Latin Americans who died while in World War II detention facilities and where they were buried;

(C) the names of children of European Americans and European Latin Americans who were born in World War II detention facilities and where they were born; and

(D) the nations from which European Latin Americans were brought to the United States, the ships that transported them to the United States and their departure and disembarkation ports, the locations where European Americans and European Latin Americans were exchanged for persons held in European Axis nations, and the ships that transported them to Europe and their departure and disembarkation ports.

(2) An assessment of the underlying rationale of the decision of the United States Government to develop the programs and policies described in paragraph (1), the information the United States Government received or acquired suggesting these programs and policies were necessary, the perceived benefit of enacting such programs and policies, and the immediate and long-term impact of such programs and policies on European Americans and European Latin Americans and their communities.

(3) A brief review of the participation by European Americans in the United States Armed Forces, including the participation of European Americans whose families were excluded, interned, repatriated, or exchanged.

(4) A recommendation of appropriate remedies, including public education programs and the creation of a comprehensive online database by the National Archives and Records Administration of documents related to the United States Government's wartime treatment of European Americans and European Latin Americans during World War II.

(c) Field Hearings- The European American Commission shall hold public hearings in such cities of the United States as it deems appropriate.

(d) Report- The European American Commission shall submit a written report of its findings and recommendations to Congress not later than 18 months after the date of the first meeting called pursuant to section 101(e).

SEC. 103. POWERS OF THE EUROPEAN AMERICAN COMMISSION.

(a) In General- The European American Commission or, on the authorization of the Commission, any subcommittee or member thereof, may, for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this title, hold such hearings and sit and act at such times and places, and request the attendance and testimony of such witnesses and the production of such books, records, correspondence, memorandum, papers, and documents as the Commission or such subcommittee or member may deem advisable. The European American Commission may request the Attorney General to invoke the aid of an appropriate United States district court to require, by subpoena or otherwise, such attendance, testimony, or production.

(b) Government Information and Cooperation- The European American Commission may acquire directly from the head of any department, agency, independent instrumentality, or other authority of the executive branch of the Government, available information that the European American Commission considers useful in the discharge of its duties. All departments, agencies, and independent instrumentalities, or other authorities of the executive branch of the Government shall cooperate with the European American Commission and furnish all information requested by the European American Commission to the extent permitted by law, including information collected under the Commission on Wartime and Internment of Civilians Act (Public Law 96-317; 50 U.S.C. App. 1981 note) and the Wartime Violation of Italian Americans Civil Liberties Act (Public Law 106-451; 50 U.S.C. App. 1981 note). For purposes of section 552a(b)(9) of title 5, United States Code (commonly known as the `Privacy Act of 1974'), the European American Commission shall be deemed to be a committee of jurisdiction.

SEC. 104. ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS.

The European American Commission is authorized to--

(1) appoint and fix the compensation of such personnel as may be necessary, without regard to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in the competitive service, and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title relating to classification and General Schedule pay rates, except that the compensation of any employee of the Commission may not exceed a rate equivalent to the rate payable under GS-15 of the General Schedule under section 5332 of such title;

(2) obtain the services of experts and consultants in accordance with the provisions of section 3109 of such title;

(3) obtain the detail of any Federal Government employee, and such detail shall be without reimbursement or interruption or loss of civil service status or privilege;

(4) enter into agreements with the Administrator of General Services for procurement of necessary financial and administrative services, for which payment shall be made by reimbursement from funds of the Commission in such amounts as may be agreed upon by the Chairman of the Commission and the Administrator;

(5) procure supplies, services, and property by contract in accordance with applicable laws and regulations and to the extent or in such amounts as are provided in appropriation Acts; and

(6) enter into contracts with Federal or State agencies, private firms, institutions, and agencies for the conduct of research or surveys, the preparation of reports, and other activities necessary to the discharge of the duties of the Commission, to the extent or in such amounts as are provided in appropriation Acts.

SEC. 105. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

There is authorized to be appropriated $600,000 to carry out this title.

SEC. 106. SUNSET.

The European American Commission shall terminate 60 days after it submits its report to Congress.

TITLE II--COMMISSION ON WARTIME TREATMENT OF JEWISH REFUGEES

SEC. 201. ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION ON WARTIME TREATMENT OF JEWISH REFUGEES.

(a) In General- There is established the Commission on Wartime Treatment of Jewish Refugees (referred to in this title as the `Jewish Refugee Commission').

(b) Membership- The Jewish Refugee Commission shall be composed of 7 members, who shall be appointed not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act as follows:

(1) Three members shall be appointed by the President.

(2) Two members shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, in consultation with the minority leader.

(3) Two members shall be appointed by the majority leader of the Senate, in consultation with the minority leader.

(c) Terms- The term of office for members shall be for the life of the Jewish Refugee Commission. A vacancy in the Jewish Refugee Commission shall not affect its powers, and shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made.

(d) Representation- The Jewish Refugee Commission shall include two members representing the interests of Jewish refugees.

(e) Meetings- The President shall call the first meeting of the Jewish Refugee Commission not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

(f) Quorum- Four members of the Jewish Refugee Commission shall constitute a quorum, but a lesser number may hold hearings.

(g) Chairman- The Jewish Refugee Commission shall elect a Chairman and Vice Chairman from among its members. The term of office of each shall be for the life of the Jewish Refugee Commission.

(h) Compensation-

(1) IN GENERAL- Members of the Jewish Refugee Commission shall serve without pay.

(2) REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES- All members of the Jewish Refugee Commission shall be reimbursed for reasonable travel and subsistence, and other reasonable and necessary expenses incurred by them in the performance of their duties.

SEC. 202. DUTIES OF THE JEWISH REFUGEE COMMISSION.

(a) In General- It shall be the duty of the Jewish Refugee Commission to review the United States Government's refusal to allow Jewish and other refugees fleeing persecution or genocide in Europe entry to the United States as provided in subsection (b).

(b) Scope of Review- The Jewish Refugee Commission's review shall cover the period between January 1, 1933, through December 31, 1945, and shall include, to the greatest extent practicable, the following:

(1) A review of the United States Government's decision to deny Jewish and other refugees fleeing persecution or genocide entry to the United States, including a review of the underlying rationale of the United States Government's decision to refuse the Jewish and other refugees entry, the information the United States Government received or acquired suggesting such refusal was necessary, the perceived benefit of such refusal, and the impact of such refusal on the refugees.

(2) A review of Federal refugee law and policy relating to those fleeing persecution or genocide, including recommendations for making it easier in the future for victims of persecution or genocide to obtain refuge in the United States.

(c) Field Hearings- The Jewish Refugee Commission shall hold public hearings in such cities of the United States as it deems appropriate.

(d) Report- The Jewish Refugee Commission shall submit a written report of its findings and recommendations to Congress not later than 18 months after the date of the first meeting called pursuant to section 201(e).

SEC. 203. POWERS OF THE JEWISH REFUGEE COMMISSION.

(a) In General- The Jewish Refugee Commission or, on the authorization of the Commission, any subcommittee or member thereof, may, for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this title, hold such hearings and sit and act at such times and places, and request the attendance and testimony of such witnesses and the production of such books, records, correspondence, memorandum, papers, and documents as the Commission or such subcommittee or member may deem advisable. The Jewish Refugee Commission may request the Attorney General to invoke the aid of an appropriate United States district court to require, by subpoena or otherwise, such attendance, testimony, or production.

(b) Government Information and Cooperation- The Jewish Refugee Commission may acquire directly from the head of any department, agency, independent instrumentality, or other authority of the executive branch of the Government, available information that the Jewish Refugee Commission considers useful in the discharge of its duties. All departments, agencies, and independent instrumentalities, or other authorities of the executive branch of the Government shall cooperate with the Jewish Refugee Commission and furnish all information requested by the Jewish Refugee Commission to the extent permitted by law. For purposes of section 552a(b)(9) of title 5, United States Code (commonly known as the `Privacy Act of 1974'), the Jewish Refugee Commission shall be deemed to be a committee of jurisdiction.

SEC. 204. ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS.

The Jewish Refugee Commission is authorized to--

(1) appoint and fix the compensation of such personnel as may be necessary, without regard to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in the competitive service, and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title relating to classification and General Schedule pay rates, except that the compensation of any employee of the Commission may not exceed a rate equivalent to the rate payable under GS-15 of the General Schedule under section 5332 of such title;

(2) obtain the services of experts and consultants in accordance with the provisions of section 3109 of such title;

(3) obtain the detail of any Federal Government employee, and such detail shall be without reimbursement or interruption or loss of civil service status or privilege;

(4) enter into agreements with the Administrator of General Services for procurement of necessary financial and administrative services, for which payment shall be made by reimbursement from funds of the Commission in such amounts as may be agreed upon by the Chairman of the Commission and the Administrator;

(5) procure supplies, services, and property by contract in accordance with applicable laws and regulations and to the extent or in such amounts as are provided in appropriation Acts; and

(6) enter into contracts with Federal or State agencies, private firms, institutions, and agencies for the conduct of research or surveys, the preparation of reports, and other activities necessary to the discharge of the duties of the Commission, to the extent or in such amounts as are provided in appropriation Acts.

SEC. 205. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

There is authorized to be appropriated $600,000 to carry out this title.

SEC. 206. SUNSET.

The Jewish Refugee Commission shall terminate 60 days after it submits its report to Congress.

TITLE III--FUNDING SOURCE

SEC. 301. FUNDING SOURCE.

Of the funds made available for the Department of Justice by the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009 (Public Law 110-329), $1,200,000 is hereby rescinded.

END