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41 On the night of December 7, 1941, the very day of the attack on Pearl Harbor , Attorney General Biddle authorized the FBI to take several hundred persons into custody without warrants due to the emergency.1 J. Edgar Hoover ordered the arrest of all German and Italian aliens classified in Groups A, B, and C in the FBI Custodial Detention Program and ­ those not previously classified in the above categories whose arrest was “necessary for the internal security of this country,” and their delivery to the nearest INS office.2 Newspaper headlines announced the “roundup of Axis aliens” as federal agents moved quickly through neighborhoods to make arrests, relying on local police officers for assistance.3 Japa­ nese individuals who had been identified in the program ­ were also arrested and detained. Most individuals ­ were not told the specific reason for their arrest and subsequent detention or where they ­ were ­ going, only that President Roo­ se­ velt had ordered their arrest.4 Filippo Molinari, a forty-­ eight-­ year-­ old agent for the daily newspaper L’Italia in San Jose, California, described the abruptness and mystery of his capture: I was the first one arrested in San Jose the night of the attack on Pearl Harbor. At 11 p.m. three policemen came to the front door and two at the back. They told me that, by order of President Roo­ se­ velt, I must go with them. They ­ didn’t even give me time to go to my room and put on my shoes. I was wearing slippers. They took me to prison . . . ​ and fi­ nally to Missoula, Montana, on the train, over the snow, still with slippers on my feet, the temperature at seventeen below and no coat or heavy clothes!5 Thus, four days before the United States declared war on Italy, government agents began arresting Italian aliens and detaining them at INS facilities for pro­ cessing before internment. On December 8, President Roo­ se­ velt, pursuant to authority ­ under the Alien ­ Enemy Act of 1798, issued Presidential Proclamation No. 2527, declaring the approximately 700,000 Italian immigrants without American citizenship “alien enemies,” and making them subject to regulations and immediate apprehension or deportation chapter two The Face of Selective Internment and the Impact of Other War­ time Restrictions 42 Chapter Two if determined dangerous by the attorney general or the secretary of war. Similar to the regulations in the presidential proclamations against the Japa­ nese and Germans, the status of alien ­ enemy made Italians subject to restraints and multiple regulations, including ­those pertaining to geo­graph­i­cal location, the possession of contraband articles, travel, and membership in certain organ­izations.6 Alien enemies did not enjoy constitutional rights and privileges such as freedom from home invasions and seizure of one’s possessions without probable cause, according to the guidelines of the INS.7­ Under the proclamations, duties and authority in executing the regulations rested with both the attorney general and the secretary of war. Italians are arriving at Fort Missoula ­ after appearing in front of an alien ­ enemy hearing board in their home district and receiving an order for internment from Attorney General Biddle. Most ­ were transported to Missoula by train during the night. Due to the immediacy ­ under which they ­ were arrested, many came to the internment camp with few belongings. They arrived in the greatest numbers within the first six months ­ after December 7, 1941, without any idea of how long they would be separated from their loved ones. (Detainees Arriving at Fort Missoula, 1941–­1942. Peter Fortune Collection [2001.048.220]. Courtesy of the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula.) The Face of Selective Internment 43 By all accounts, ­ there was a flurry of arrests in the days and weeks following the Japa­ nese attack on Pearl Harbor. By 11:00 a.m. on December 9, approximately eighty-­ three Italian aliens ­ were in custody.8 On December 10, 1941, Attorney General Biddle promised that the government would make ­ every effort to protect aliens from “discrimination or abuse” and would not “engage in ­ wholesale condemnation of any alien group.”9 The New York Times reported 222 Italians arrested as of December 12.10 This number is significantly higher than the 169 Italian aliens cited by Biddle in his press release the next day11 Many Italians arrested had no chance to speak with ­ family members before being taken away from their homes for several years. For example, Carmelo Ilacqua, a forty-­ six year-­ old alien employed...


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