George Takei has compared the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border to his time in Japanese internment camps during World War II.
Time reports that under the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy nearly 2,000 children were separated from their parents between April and May. The Associated Press also reports that babies and young migrant children are being held in three “tender age” shelters with an additional shelter set to open in Houston.
In an op-ed for Foreign Policy, Takei recalls the frightening time he spent in Japanese internment camps as a child. The comparison tips in favor of the camps because as Takei points out he was not separated from his family.
“At least during the internment, when I was just 5 years old, I was not taken from my parents,” the “Star Trek” star writes. “We were not pulled screaming from our mothers’ arms. We were not left to change the diapers of younger children by ourselves.”
Takei’s essay recalls being forced to live in a horse stall for several weeks and remembers a guard pointing guns at his family. However, he found strength and solace in his family’s support.
“At least during the internment, we remained a family, and I credit that alone for keeping the scars of our unjust imprisonment from deepening on my soul,” he continued. “I cannot for a moment imagine what my childhood would have been like had I been thrown into a camp without my parents. That this is happening today fills me with both rage and grief: rage toward a failed political leadership who appear to have lost even their most basic humanity, and a profound grief for the families affected.”
Takei concluded the op-ed calling on people to take action against the policy.
“Unless we act now, we will have failed to learn at all from our past mistakes. Once again, we are flinging ourselves into a world of camps and fences and racist imagery — and lies just big enough to stick,” Takei writes.
Takei’s essay echoes similar thoughts from former First Lady Laura Bush who penned a column for the Washington Post writing of the immigration policy, “These images are eerily reminiscent of the internment camps for U.S. citizens and noncitizens of Japanese descent during World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.”