In February 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the Secretary of War to declare certain areas within the United State as military zones and to restrict access to those areas on the grounds of wartime military necessity.
The president’s order came less than three months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, amid concerns that Japanese American citizens might pose a threat to national security. These concerns were driven by public hysteria grounded in racism and false reports of sabotage and collaboration with the enemy.
Under the Executive Order, some 112,000 Japanese Americans—79,000 of whom were American citizens—were removed from the West Coast and placed into ten internment camps located in remote areas. Japanese Americans were given only a few days' notice to report for internment, and many had to sell their homes and businesses for much less than they were worth. In so doing, they lost much of what they had accrued in the course of their lives.