Paul Kusuda’s column
PROCLAMATION OR EXECUTIVE ORDER—WHAT’S THE
Paul H. Kusuda
By Paul H. Kusuda
February 19, 1942, was the date of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066
that within a few months resulted in the enforced evacuation and incarceration of 120,000
persons of Japanese ancestry who resided in the three West Coast states of California,
Oregon, and Washington. February is cited by many chapters of the Japanese American
Citizens League as a Day of Remembrance because of governmental actions that led to the
unconstitutional deprivation of civil liberties, including denial of due process rights. A couple
of months earlier, December 7, 1941, was what we shall long remember as the day of infamy
when Japan attacked the United States.
On December 13, 2015, the Wisconsin State Journal had a front-page article (with no reporter
being cited as author) that noted “When…Donald Trump called for a temporary ban on
Muslims entering the United States, he tapped into a deep vein of Islamophobia in this
country…But it was a rare instance in American history in which a leading political candidate
openly called for the shunning of a religious minority. One strains for a historic precedent.
The relocation of Japanese-Americans into internment camps during World War II comes to mind. Trump himself has
compared his call to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive orders after Pearl Harbor authorizing officials to detain and
deport non-naturalized natives and citizens of Japan, Germany and Italy…”
While agreeing totally with the assertion that Trump tapped a deep vein that I believe is contrary to America’s way of viewing
its inhabitants, I also felt a need to clarify what happened to residents whose parentage was Japanese. So, I sent an email
message to the Editor and subsequently received a response from the City Editor to whom my message had been
forwarded. He wrote ”…the rounding up of people of Japanese descent and putting them into concentration camps one
was one thing. The executive orders to detain and deport people of Japanese, German, and Italian descent was another.”
He included citations for Presidential Proclamations about the Japanese, Germans, and Italians. During a subsequent
telephone discussion, I raised my concerns, but he dismissed my assertion that Executive Order 9066 had no mention of
deportation and said that the substance of the article still held. He asked if further discussion was needed; I said, “No.”
Since I was completely unaware of the three Presidential Proclamations to which the City Editor referred, I reviewed
Proclamation 2525, dated December 7, 1941, titled “Alien Enemies—Japanese: AUTHORITY.” The wording authorized the
President “…to direct the conduct to be observed…toward…aliens…the manner and degree of restraint to which they shall
be subject and in what cases, and upon what security their residence shall be permitted, and to provide for the removal of
those who, not being permitted to reside within the United States, refuse or neglect to depart therefrom; and to establish
any other regulations which are found necessary in the premises and for the public safety.” Alien enemies were described
as “…all natives, citizens, denizens, or subjects of the hostile nation or government, being of the age of fourteen years and
upward, who shall be within the United States and not actually naturalized…”
In reading the five-page Proclamation, I was not able to find any wording about deportation. My surprise was that an age cut-
point of fourteen was mentioned more than once. Why that age was specified remains a mystery to me.
The purpose for my email message to the Editor was to clarify; it included the following points: First, the President did not
authorize “officials to detain and deport…” His Executive Order 9066, not mentioning any country, stated: “I hereby authorize
and direct the Secretary of War…to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he…may determine…from
which any or all persons may be excluded…” He did not mention deportation. Second, there was no mention of non-
naturalized natives” (whatever that might mean) or citizens of foreign countries. Third, mass evacuation and incarceration in
quickly-built, tar-papered World-War-I-type single-men barrack buildings involved only persons of Japanese ancestry, both
aliens and American citizens, regardless of age.
Of importance to note is that alien immigrants from Japan and other Asian countries were barred from the naturalization
process, a privilege extended only to non-Asians. Not until 1952 were aliens of Japanese ancestry enabled to apply.
The time has come for me to answer the question raised as the title to this article: Proclamation or Executive Order—What’
s the Difference? In essence, that’s the question raised of me by the City Editor. To my way of thinking, the difference is
great. A proclamation is just that, it proclaims but does not direct. It states a position taken the person or entity issuing it.
For example, a city or organization might issue a proclamation declaring a specific month to be one to recognize social
workers or teachers, a special day to honor a local resident, a call to recognize a specific disability or medical condition
such as low vision or age-related macular degeneration. No action is required. On the other hand, an Executive Order both
authorizes and directs specific actions. An analogy may be seen in the difference between Congressional Authorization
and Congressional Appropriation. The former provides authorization for public fund expenditures, the latter enables action,
that is, without it, public funds cannot be allocated for expenditure. Is there a difference? Of course, and I believe an editor
should know that a difference exists between a proclamation and an executive order.
I had to write this article because I was disappointed that an editor felt defense of non-named reportorial staff was more
important than discussing with a
reader the importance of word
usage, appropriateness of
adding clarifying information, and
the fact that only one group of
enemy aliens (and American
citizens) was singled out during a
hysterical period of our history
and denied constitutional rights.
Reference to the “historic
precedent” could have been used
in opposition of Trump’s
viewpoint by citing that hysteria
must not be allowed to result in
shunning and other negative
actions against Muslims.
Americanism is better than that!