Leaving Camp

As the tide of war began to turn in favor of the United States and its allies, the War Relocation Authority began exploring ways to gradually transition internees back into civilian life.  As early as 1943, the WRA encouraged resettlement, which was a policy aimed at relocating Japanese Americans away from the West coast.  Only those passing the loyalty questionnaire were allowed to participate.  While the WRA’s resettlement policy provided an opportunity for many internees to escape their confinement, only a small percentage actually left camp during 1943.

The West Coast ban was lifted in January 1944 due to the positive publicity surrounding Japanese American fighting forces abroad and a the Endo decision denying the WRA's authority to limit resettlement.  It was this turn of events that prompted the most internees to leave the camps.  Even though many looked forward to returning to their former communities, for most homecoming was bittersweet as anti-Japanese campaigns began in anticipation of their return.  In 1948, a Department of Justice camp in Crystal City, Texas released the last wartime prisoners of Japanese descent.

For more information see the added resources section on leaving camp.