As soon as all people of Japanese ancestry were behind barbed wire in the internment camps the WRA began the resettlement process. "There was no public objection to resettlement from the War Department because by this time few military decision makers were inclined toward continuing to hold all Japanese regardless of their loyalty or lack of loyalty to the United States" (Williams and Coleman 1992: 77). Early in the WRA's existence the administration was convinced that if internment had indeed been necessary than the necessity would be short-lived.
From the beginning it was possible for college students to leave the internment camps in order to pursue their education. College students who were not a security risk, who wanted to attend school, and could gain admission were allowed to leave the camps. Several evacuees at Amache chose to leave for college.
In order to obtain leave clearance evacuees had to answer a series of questions under oath:
Will you stay away from large groups of Japanese?
Will you try to develop such American habits which will cause you to be accepted readily into American social groups?
Will you conform to the customs and dress of your new home?
Are you willing to provide information on any subversive activity?
(Williams and Coleman 1992: 78)
Early on at Amache WRA officials began relocating the Japanese as quickly as possible. When the head of the Washington WRA Employment office, Davis McEntire, visited Amache on January 1943 he stated that Amache was far ahead of the other nine camps in their relocation plans (Holsinger 1960: 60). By May 1943 1,380 evacuees had left Amache to obtain outside employment.
The relocation process stopped temporarily in April 1943 with the Presidential announcement of the Japanese execution of captured American flyers. By the first of June evacuees were again allowed to move as freely as they had before the incident and the relocation process began once again.
Amache received an additional set back with the arrival of 539 evacuees from the internment camp in Jerome, AR. The government intended to close this camp as quickly as possible. Despite this increase of population in Amache by March 24, 1944 two thousand people had relocated from Amache. More and more people continued to leave Amache due to the United States government acquiring all of the shipping expenses of all personal property of the evacuees (Holsinger 1960: 69).
After August 1944 the final phase of the relocation process began. Many Japanese wished to leave the camps but refused to do so until they could return to California. On September 9, 1944 Dillion Meyer director of the WRA announced that the camps would not close until the ban which excluded the Japanese from the West Coast was lifted. On December 17, 1944 the ban was revoked. The official government statement read:
Those persons of Japanese ancestry whose records have stood the test of army scrutiny will be permitted the same freedom of movement throughout the United States as other loyal citizens and law-abiding aliens. The decision to revoke the exclusion order was prompted by military considerations. Since the evacuation, our armed forces steadily have pushed the enemy in the Pacific farther from our shores and closer to the Japanese home islands. Although hard fighting is ahead in the Pacific, it can no longer be said as it could be said in 1942, that an enemy invasion on the west coast on a large scale is a substantial possibility (quoted in Lurie 1992: 128-129).
There was not a rush for evacuees to leave Amache. Rumors of evacuees' harsh treatment upon release from the camp spread quickly though Amache and served to discourage the relocation program. Director Lindley in an open letter printed in the Granada Pioneer tried to encourage relocation:
The War Relocation Authority has achieved one of its primary goals, the lifting of the order which removed and banned many of you from you homes. The courage displayed by your boys on America's fighting fronts was a prime factor in the achievement of this goal. your old home state and the rest of continental America is now open to most of you. Do not let resentment, inertia or a sense of frustration blind you to the fact that the closing of the centers is a consummation devoutly to be wished! The Center, any center, is not a good place to live; I know it and you know it . . . (quoted in Holsinger 1960: 107).
Not one evacuee left Amache the first day after the exclusion order had been lifted. On January 7, 1945 there were still 6,179 evacuees at Amache. In order to speed up the relocation process the WRA announced on March 7, 1945 that it was no longer necessary to have prior relocation plans approved.
Many evacuees were frightened to leave Amache because the camp had become their home. They were afraid of what awaited them on the outside of the camp. On July 18 Director Lindley tried to relieve these fears by stating the following:
Make no mistake. The thousands who have relocated are happy; they wonder why they put up with a subnormal existence in a relocation center as long as they did. I have received hundreds of personal letters from people who have successfully relocated. You can do the same . . . Don't put off going until October, go now; not next month, not next week, not tomorrow, today! You will benefit by every day you save, and a day out of the center is a day saved (quoted in Holsinger 1960: 111-112).
The announcement on August 15, 1945 of the surrender of the Japanese forces in the Pacific helped to encourage the relocation of the evacuees. Many evacuees had refused to leave until the end of the war citing that the government closing the camps before the end of the war was breaking its promise to keep the centers in operation for the duration of the war. On October 15 the last evacuees left Amache on a train for Sacramento. Camp Amache was officially closed as scheduled.
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