In March 2019, a group of Japanese American and Japanese Latin American WWII concentration camp survivors and descendants organized a pilgrimage to the former site of the Crystal City Internment Camp in South Texas where survivors had been indefinitely imprisoned as children, separated from their fathers. This family reunification prison camp was run by the Department of Justice. Japanese and Japanese American prisoners, together with Japanese Latin Americans who had been kidnapped and brought to the U.S., were to fill the numbers to meet the quota for a massive hostage exchange agreement with Japan.
Organizers couldn’t ignore the fact that just 40 miles east of the Crystal City site, on the very same highway, history was being repeated again. Hundreds of mothers and children seeking asylum from Central America were being held at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, criminalized by anti-immigrant racist policies resulting in family separation, indefinite detention, and deportation. Pilgrimage organizers felt compelled to stand in solidarity with the imprisoned families.
The Texas Dilley Protest was supported by Grassroots Leadership in partnership with numerous Japanese American civil liberties groups, community leaders and allied organizations. A call was issued for people to fold 10,000 origami cranes to be hung on the fences surrounding the Dilley detention center. The crane is a unique symbol in Japanese culture for transformation, healing, and nonviolence. By the time of the protest, we received 30,000 origami cranes from around the world. Hung on the fences at the protest, these cranes, folded with messages of solidarity, hope, and love, came from temples, churches, libraries, union halls, community centers, schools, and even prisoners at San Quentin State Prison. Taiko drummers from across the country joined the protest and thundered at the fence, a message of solidarity and hope to the people imprisoned inside.
Tsuru for Solidarity is now an independent project working to end detention sites and support directly impacted immigrant and refugee communities targeted by racism, state violence, injustice and oppression in the United States.
“No Ban, No Wall, No Camps, No-No!”
Tsuru for Solidarity is a nonviolent, direct action project of Japanese American social justice advocates and allies working to end detention sites and support directly impacted immigrant and refugee communities that are being targeted by racist, inhumane immigration policies. We stand on the moral authority of Japanese Americans who suffered the atrocities and legacy of U.S. concentration camps during WWII and we say, “Stop Repeating History!”
Never Again is NOW.
Our mission is to:
- educate, advocate, and protest to close all U.S. concentration camps;
- build solidarity with other communities of color that have experienced forced removal, detention, deportation, separation of families, and other forms of racial and state violence;
- coordinate intergenerational, cross-community healing circles addressing the trauma of our shared histories.