SENATE Bill 3488, Anti Registry Program Act, the Council of Islamic Organizations’ primary Springfield legislative initiative this year, has been signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner. This bill is of vital importance not only to the Muslim community, but other minority communities as well.
Our nation, has in the past, isolated individuals based upon their national origin and religion. Recall the internment of Japanese Americans, which was based solely on their nationality. Amid pervasive hysteria fueled by false perceptions of Japanese Americans as “security risks” to the United States, the federal government interned 120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were US citizens, the remainder legally barred from gaining citizenship. Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt, head of the Western Defense Command. The Western Defense Command was responsible for implementing the internment of people of Japanese descent. You can see how this hysteria was fueled in his statement to a subcommittee of the United States Congress in 1943:
“I don’t want any of them [persons of Japanese ancestry] here. They are a dangerous element. There is no way to determine their loyalty… It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen, he is still a Japanese. American citizenship does not necessarily determine loyalty… But we must worry about the Japanese all the time until he is wiped off the map.” LINK
We must not let history to repeat itself. Our state reflects a diverse makeup of religions, races, nationalities and ethnicities. This diversity is a source of strength, not weakness, and we must guard against any potential infringement that challenges the strength we find in such diversity.
With the passage of the Anti-Registry bill, our legislature has brought us closer to declaring to the world that the State of Illinois will not allow a registry of Illinoisans to be based solely upon one’s religion, race, ethnicity or nationality.