The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor (an American army base in Hawaii) in December 7, 1941. Shortly after the attack, the United States declared war on Japan and entered World War II. Not long after, President Roosevelt signed an executive order that allowed the military to force people of Japanese ancestry into internment camps.
An internment camp is a prison or detention facility where people are forced to live during a war or crisis. The conditions in an internment camp are typically harsh. People were forced to leave their homes and move into an area that was surrounded by barbed wire. They were not allowed to leave.
The camps were made because people became paranoid that Japanese-Americans would help Japan against the United States after the Pearl Harbor attack. However, this fear was not founded on any hard evidence. There were also many American farmers who competed against Japanese labor. The people were put in the camps based only on their race. They had not done anything wrong.
A hysteria against Japanese Americans called "the Fifth Column" and "the enemy within" was created by some journalists, pressure groups, politicians, and the U.S. Army. A deep suspicion of Japanese Americans quickly led to cries for their removal. During the first phase of the relocation, internees were transported on trains and busses under military guard to the detention centers.
It is estimated that around 120,000 Japanese-Americans were sent to ten camps spread out around the Western United States. Entire families were rounded up and sent to the camps. Around a third of the people in the camps were school-aged children. Around 12,000 Germans and Italians were also sent to internment camps in the United States.
The interment finally ended in January of 1945. After being freed, the internees were given $25 and a train ticket home. Many of these families had been in the camps for over two years and had lost their homes, farms, and other property while they were in the camps. They had to rebuild their lives.
In 1988, the U.S. government apologized for the internment camps. President Ronald Reagan signed a law that gave each of the survivors $20,000 in reparations. He also sent each survivor a signed apology.