How Immigration Policies Shape America: A Ketchikan Photo Essay

The recent uproar over the Trump Administration's immigration policies reminded me of a few historically-significant facts that I learned about three businesses while visiting Ketchikan, Alaska, last September (2016). Others might benefit from learning about them, too, so enjoy!

1. I learned about Tatsuda's Grocery and how the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor impacted the family in two ways. Not only was the family sent to internment camps at the order of American government, but three sons served in the US Armed Forces at the same time the family was being interned. 

Crazy? That's America and that's history, folks. 
























2. I also learned about the history of the Diaz Cafe; specifically, that while immigration laws in the 1920s restricted Chinese and Japanese immigrants from coming to America, Filipinos were not blocked from immigrating. Thus, Ketchikan boomed with 'Alaskeros' who became part of the community, and still are.

So, it can be viewed as bad that certain groups were blocked from immigrating, yet at the same time other groups were allowed in who made America their new home -- and that can be viewed as good! Right or wrong, that is how history played out, and it is something to learn from.
















3. Lastly, I learned about the family who started the New York Hotel and Cafe. Even before the internment camps of WWII, in 1925 the Shimizu family was forced to move to another area in town due to local efforts to improve buildings and move minorities out. And this is Alaska, folks...freedom, the last frontier, and all that jazz.

The family was  also interned during World War 2, but people of the community took over running the business and gave the Shimizus all the profits upon their return (release). Now that's community!
























As sad as it is to understand that this is the truth behind a small part of America's history -- people being told they can or cannot live somewhere, people being forced to leave their homes and live in government camps, people being told they are not allowed to move to America -- this is what has made America the America it is today. 

America may not be perfect, like every other country, but it has a history unlike any other; and history continues to be made every day whether people go along with laws, fight laws, or ignore laws. Because it's the people who make America and its history incredible, not the government.

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