American Concentration Camp Crystal City, Texas

By Mike Alewitz

The long history of US border concentration camps…

ALIEN ENEMY DETENTION FACILITY, Crystal City, Texas

(December 12, 1943 – February 11, 1948)

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While many people are aware of the Japanese-American internment camps, few know about the Crystal City, Texas, Alien Enemy Detention Facility.  It was a camp established by “friend of labor,” liberal hero, President Franklin Roosevelt.

The camp imprisoned over 3000 people, mostly of Japanese descent. – but also included those of German and Italian ancestry. 

Little known is the fact that the US arranged for families of Japanese, German and Italian descent to be deported by US backed regimes in Latin America for incarceration in the US.

The majority were Japanese-Peruvians, but Roosevelt also had men deported from Bolivia, Columbia Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Haiti. 

Upon arrival in the US, the workers were promptly arrested on the grounds that they had attempted to enter the country illegally!  

Wives and children followed the men later — ostensibly as “volunteers,” although most families lacked any alternatives to deportation.

A proposed “prisoner exchange program” (though none of the prisoners were military) became a “repatriation program” in which the majority of families (including many children who had never been to their “home” country) were deported once again to Germany and Japan. 

At the end of WWII, the camp still held 3,374 prisoners.  660 Japanese-Peruvians (whose country prohibited them from returning) were simply dumped in Japan. 

Some inmates were forced to join thousands of other internees to work as farm laborers in New Jersey. 

The Crystal City internment camp was not officially closed until their release on February 11, 1948.  They had remained, imprisoned as slaves, for three years after the official end of the war.

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