Digital History>eXplorations>Japanese American Internment>Redress for Japanese Internees

 

Redress for Japanese Internees
U.S. Department of Justice

  1. Who is eligible?
  2. Who is not eligible?
  3. Can the heirs of a deceased eligible receive payment?
  4. How will eligibility be verified?
  5. How will I know if my eligibility has been verified?
  6. What kinds of documents will ORA request and why?
  7. What if I have questions or need help?
  8. How will I know if ORA has reviewed my documents?
  9. What if circumstances change?
  10. When can I expect payment?
  11. Is there recourse if I am found to be ineligible?
  12. Should I mail documents now?
  13. Is it too late to contact ORA?


About this section......

Federal regulations were established by the Department of Justice to fulfill its responsibilities under the Civil Liberties Act. Prior to their publication as final regulations, they were published in the Federal Register for public comment, and based on the comments received, a number of changes were made. They describe the Department's interpretation of the Act and its amendments, and they provide details about how the program operates. What follows is a summary of these regulations.


Q. Who is eligible for redress?

A. All eligibles must be of Japanese ancestry, must have been U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens during the internment period, from December 7, 1941 to June 30, 1946, and must have been living on August 10, 1988, the date of the Act's enactment. In 1992, the Act was amended to include as eligible non-Japanese spouses or parents of an individual of Japanese ancestry who otherwise satisfied the above threshold requirements.

Beyond that most, but not all, eligible individuals will fall into one or more of the following categories.

General Categories

  • Those who were interned in Relocation Centers.
  • Those who were held in Assembly Centers whether or not they later went to Relocation Centers.
  • Those who were interned by the Army in Hawaii.
  • Those who were interned by the Department of Justice in any of the Immigration and Naturalization (INS) Camps.
  • Those who were in a prohibited military zone and who filed Change of Residence Cards.
  • Those who moved from prohibited zones on or after February 19, 1942 as a result of Federal government action.
  • Those who were born in the interior during the West Coast exclusion period, from March 19, 1942 to January 20, 1945, to a parent from the West Coast who had been evacuated from the West Coast or interned.
  • Those who resided in Arizona and suffered the termination of a significant, pre-existing relationship as a result of the creation of an exclusion zone in southern Arizona.
  • Those who were ordered to leave Bainbridge Island or Terminal Island.
  • Those who were in the U.S. Military during the internment period and never spent time in camps, but lost property as a result of government action because their homes were in prohibited zones.
  • Those who were in the U.S. Military and were prohibited by government regulation from visiting their interned families or were subject to undue restrictions prior to visits.
  • Those who were born in Assembly Centers, Relocation Centers, or Internment Camps, including those born to parents from Latin America who were interned in the United States.
  • Those who were forcibly brought to the United States from Latin America for internment and later acquired a change in immigration status to permanent resident, retroactive to the internment period.
  • Those who spent the internment in institutions, such as sanitariums, under the administrative authority of the War Relocation Authority.


Special Cases

ORA knows that some eligible people do not fit any of these categories, and that historic records may be missing even for some of those who do fit the categories described above. The regulations permit "case-by-case" determinations under either set of circumstances. ORA may ask persons who fit into this special case category to submit affidavits or other documentation to help ORA make a decision.

If you believe that you or someone you know would possibly be a special case, please write to ORA at the address given below. Provide a description of the circumstances during the internment period and any information you feel may be helpful. The most useful information is name, including maiden or other names used, if any, current address, date of birth, and Social Security number.


    U.S. Department of Justice
    Civil Rights Division
    Office of Redress Administration
    P.O. Box 66260
    Washington, DC 20035-6260
    You may also call on 888-219-6900 (toll free), on (202) 219-4710 TDD, or (202) 219-6900 outside the U.S.


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Q. Who is not eligible for redress?

A. The Act excluded some people affected during the internment period from redress. In general, these people will fall into the following categories:

  • Those who were not U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens during the internment period and did not have their status adjusted retroactively, including those brought from Latin America.
  • Adults who relocated to an enemy country between December 7, 1941 and September 2, 1945. In 1996, the regulations were amended to make minors who relocated involuntarily with their parents eligible for redress.
  • Those who moved from the West Coast prior to February 19, 1942 for their own personal reasons, not in response to government action.
  • Those who remained in the U.S. Military, but lost no property as a result of government action, or were allowed to visit their interned families without undue restrictions.
  • Those who were outside the boundaries of the United States, and did not or were unable to return during the internment period, even if their families were evacuated, interned, or relocated.

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Q. Can the heirs of a deceased eligible receive payment?

A. In the case of an eligible individual who died on or after August 10, 1988, payment is made only as follows:

(a) If the eligible individual is survived by a spouse who is living at the time of payment, payment is made to the surviving spouse.

(b) If there is no surviving spouse, payment is made in equal shares to all children of the eligible individual who are living at the time of payment.

(c) If there is no surviving spouse and no surviving children, payment is made in equal shares to the parents of the deceased eligible individual who are living at the time of payment.

(d) If there are no surviving spouses, children or parents, the amount of the payment remains in the Fund.

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Q. How will my eligibility be verified?

A. ORA has established an information system that contains all the data that has been collected since the Office was established. The ORA computers contain:


HistorReturn to the top of the paeic Information: ORA has obtained historical records made during the internment period from several sources, primarily the National Archives. From these records, we know who was interned, who filed a Change of Residence Card, and other information that is critical in establishing eligibility.

Current Information: ORA has also been collecting current information from federal and state government agencies (such as the Social Security Administration and state vital statistics bureaus), and from potential recipients, their friends or families.
During the verification process, ORA will compare current and historical information. If it is the same, then the preliminary phase of verification for that person will be complete.

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Q. How will I know if my eligibility has been verified?

A. Once ORA has preliminarily verified your eligibility in the process described above, you will be contacted by letter. The law states that payment must be made in the order of birth, beginning with the oldest eligibles. Therefore, ORA will be contacting eligibles beginning with the oldest living on the date of enactment of the law on August 10, 1988 (or his or her statutory heirs: spouse, children or parents) who have been located by the Administrator by that time.

This letter will request that you complete a declaration of eligibility and also submit certain documents to establish your identity. ORA will attach to the letter an instruction page that lists specific examples of the finds of records that are acceptable.

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Q. What kind of documents will ORA request and why?

A. It is ORA's responsibility to determine eligibility, but after that, we have to be sure that the check and the Presidential apology go to the right person at the right address. Additionally, some people have changed their names, or have a guardian who takes care of their personal business for them. In these cases, we have to know what name to put on the check so that it can be cashed.

In general, ORA will require everyone to send:

  • A completed Declaration. (ORA will supply the form.)

In addition, some will be requested to send:

  • Proof of date of birth.
  • Proof of citizenship.

And every heir must also send:

  • Proof of death of the eligible person.
  • Proof of his/her relationship to the deceased person.

ALL PHOTOCOPIED DOCUMENTS must either be notarized or contain an authenticity clause signed under penalty of perjury. Wording for this authenticity clause will be provided by ORA in the letter requesting documentation.

ORA will not return any documents, so do not send anything that you will need to have back.

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Q. What if I have questions or need help?

A. The letter that ORA sends to request documentation will include instructions. These instructions are specific to your case, which means that you may be asked to supply slightly different information than someone else. Return your information in the pre-addressed envelope that ORA supplies with your letter. This envelope does not need any postage.

If you have questions, ORA has a toll free Help Line for calls within the U.S. that you may call and leave a message. Someone from ORA will return your call within 5 business days:


ORA Help Line: 888-219-6900 (toll free)
or (202)219-6900 outside the U.S.
or (202) 219-4710 (TDD, telephone device for the deaf)

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Q. How will I know when ORA has reviewed my documents?

A. After reviewing your information, ORA will again contact you. If your information is incomplete, a letter from ORA will explain what is needed, and again request that you return the information in the postage-paid, pre-addressed envelope provided. If your information is complete and ORA has confirmed your identity, you will receive a letter informing you of this fact. With this letter you will also receive a change of address form to use if you move before your payment is mailed to you.

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Q. What if circumstances change after I have sent my documentation in to ORA, if I move, or if an eligible individual dies, for instance?

A. ORA needs to know this type of information as soon as possible. Please write to us at the address given below if you have new information, or use the change of address form supplied by ORA to provide us with your new address if you move. This address is to be used by those who have already supplied documentation to ORA at ORA's request, and who want to update that information.


U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Office of Redress Administration (Verification Unit)
P.O. Box 66260
Washington, DC 20035-6260
To expedite handling of information, your correspondence should include your full name and date of birth, and the "FN" that appears on the mailing label above your name on correspondence addressed to you from ORA.

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Q. When can I expect payment?

A. Payments began in 1990 and are made on a regular basis every several months. Payments are made in descending order, beginning with eligible people in the oldest age group (or their heirs) whom ORA has located at that time.

When ORA is ready to pay you, you will receive a letter notifying you that you are eligible. Shortly thereafter, you will receive a letter of apology and a U.S. Treasury check for $20,000 or for your share as an heir.

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Q. Do I have any recourse if ORA finds that I am ineligible?

A. Yes. If you are found to be ineligible, ORA will notify you by letter and will explain the reason for this decision. The letter will include instructions on what to do if you disagree with the decision. You will have the right to request reconsideration of your case within 60 days of receiving the notification. Your request must be to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, and you may submit any documents in support of your eligibility. Once you file an appeal, ORA relinquishes your case to the Appellate Section. The Appellate Section will conduct a de novo review. After your appeal has been reviewed, the Appellate Section will notify you of its final decision.

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Q. If I mail documents now, will this help ORA to verify my eligibility?

A. No. ORA must first determine that you are potentially eligible using official historical sources. Therefore, do not send us any proof of identification until you have received a letter from ORA specifically asking for documentation of your identity. Remember, any information you send in will not be returned to you.

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Q. I have never contacted ORA to provide my current address and information about myself. Is it too late?

A. No. ORA is still collecting voluntary information. If you have not yet provided any information to ORA and would like to do so, please write to ORA at the address given below. You may submit any information you feel may be helpful. The most useful information is name, including maiden or other names used if any, current address, date of birth, social security number, and where you were interned or relocated.


U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Office of Redress Administration
P.O. Box 66260
Washington, DC 20035-6260

But remember that the Redress Program ends on August 10, 1998, and ORA has no authority to make payments after that date.

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