During World War Two, Japanese Americans living on the west coast were put in internment camps due to fears about their loyalty to America at a time when America was at war with Japan. There have been official apologies as well as token compensation to those who were interned.
What is less known is that there were Italian Americans and German Americans who were interned under similar circumstances. The site "Modern US History Suite 101 reports as follows on this troubling chapter in US history.
"Actions against Italian-Americans began prior to the Pearl Harbor attack as Roosevelt ordered the FBI to compile a custodial detention list. This list would contain the names of individuals to be arrested in the event of a national emergency. In the months immediately after Pearl Harbor, hundreds of Italian- Americans were arrested. As of June of the following year, 1521 Italian-Americans were arrested by the FBI. Military service was no barrier to being arrested. Many of those taken in to custody in San Francisco were veterans of World War I who had later joined the Federation of Italian War Veterans. gents would arrive at the intended detainee’s home during the night and search the residence. The target of the arrest would be taken to an immigration detention center. Their families were not told the reason for the arrest or where the person was being taken. Those in custody were transported to an internment camp where they faced a panel of military officers and private citizens. They had no legal representation and were not advised of the charges against them. Most people were in custody for two years, moving between camps every three to four months. Internment camps were located at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, Fort George Meade in Maryland and Fort Missoula in Montana. Italian-Americans were also interned at Tennessee’s Camp Forrest and Camp McAlester in Oklahoma. The Provost Marshal General and the Immigration and Naturalization Services had forty-five other locations where they could intern these individuals. Italy surrendered on September 8, 1943 and many detainees were released by the end of the year."
German Americans were similarly targeted. There were legitimate fears of groups such as the German American Bund posing a security risk in time of war. the concerns were remarkably similar to those that arise with Arab Americans today. Family ties to a country with which America is engaged in hostilities raises security questions.