Briefline

Senate committee’s advancement of Amache bill earns nod from Rep. Buck

By: - November 24, 2021 12:44 pm

Japanese Americans during World War II were forcibly removed to an incarceration centers, one of which was west of Granada. This image, made circa 1942, is part of History Colorado’s collection related to the center and is believed to show detainees being transported to the site. (History Colorado)

Republican Rep. Ken Buck, of Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, said he “applauds” the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee for passing the Amache National Historic Site bill. 

“The Amache National Historic Site Act recognizes the awful injustices committed against Japanese Americans who were placed in internment camps, while preserving the site for the citizens of Colorado — and the United States — to visit and learn from in the future,” Buck said in Thursday’s press release. “I am grateful to my colleagues in the House for voting to pass the act and applaud my colleagues on the Senate side for moving it forward.”

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The bill would take the land previously used for the Japanese American incarceration facility and turn it into the Amache National Historic Site. The bill would also establish the land as part of the U.S. National Park System. 

“Congressmen Neguse and Buck demonstrated what cooperation looks like on the Hill,” said Mike Honda, a former representative from California and an Amache survivor, in the press release. Rep. Joe Neguse, a Democrat, represents Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District. “Let’s hope the Senate collaborates in the same manner and sends the bill to the White House: this then will be the expression and realization of the people’s will.”

An undated aerial photo of barracks at the World War II-era incarceration center west of Granada. (History Colorado)

The land is near the statutory town of Granada, located in Prowers County. 

The Granada Relocation Center, sometimes referred to as “Camp Amache,” or “Amache,” was 1 of 10 Japanese American incarceration facilities in the United States. At its peak, there were over 7,3000 internees housed at the center, two-thirds of whom were American citizens, according to the National Park Service website

In July, the House of Representatives passed companion legislation that would establish the Amache National Historic Site as part of the National Park System. 

Neguse and Reps. Jason Crow of the 6th Congressional District, Ed Perlmutter of the 7th District, and Diana DeGette of the 1st District, all Democrats, and Buck, co-sponsored the companion legislation in the House.

Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper introduced similar legislation in April.

“The internment of Japanese Americans is a dark stain on our nation’s past,” Hickenlooper said in an April press release. “The Amache National Historic Site will honor those who suffered and help ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.”

“The incarceration of Japanese Americans is a shameful part of America’s history and Amache is a prominent site in that dark past,” Bennet said in the press release. “Adding Amache to the National Park System will preserve its story, so future generations learn from our mistakes.”

“We are grateful Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper have introduced this companion bill and we strongly support the passage of this legislation in Congress,” said Robin Lawrentz, the president of the Japan America Society of Southern Colorado, in the April press release. “Amache deserves to be recognized as a National Historic Site. We hope this guarantees that its history, importance, and symbolism will be shared for generations to come.” 

Hickenlooper spoke in favor of the bill at the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s hearing in October.

In June, Bennet and Hickenlooper sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources asking Democrat Chairman Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, and Republican Ranking Member John Barrasso, of Wyoming, to hold a hearing on the legislation they introduced. 

In May 2018, former Sen. Cory Gardner, Bennet, and Buck introduced the Amache Study Act, which directed the Department of the Interior to conduct a “special resource study” to determine Amache’s historical significance and the feasibility of adding Amache to the National Park System. The Amache Study Act was signed into law in 2019 as part of the Dingell Conservation Act, according to Bennet’s July press release. The press release says that adding Amache to the National Park System requires Congressional designation.

“When I visited Amache last summer, it served as a stark reminder of a dark moment in our country’s history,” Gardner said in a May 2018 press release announcing the Amache Study Act. “It’s important we remember the grave injustice that was committed against Japanese Americans during World War II so that we never repeat our mistakes from the past.”

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