California Democratic Party Asian Pacific Islander Caucus Chair Clark Lee released the following statement on Roanoke, Virginia Mayor David Bowers’s comments invoking the Japanese internment in World War II in addressing his refusal of Syrian refugee assistance:

On behalf of the California Democratic Party Asian Pacific Islander Caucus, we strongly condemn Roanoke Mayor David Bowers’s comments on the Japanese internment during World War II.

In a statement, Roanoke Mayor David Bowers invoked the Japanese internment during World War II in his request to “suspend any further Syrian refugee assistance” in Roanoke, Virginia, noting that the “threat of harm to America from Isis now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies” during World War II, which “compelled” the President to “sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.”

The Japanese internment and several other anti-immigrant policies were dark moments in our nation’s history that have had devastating consequences. This type of racially insensitive rhetoric that perpetuates xenophobia, discrimination, and racism has no place in the Democratic Party and has no place in America.

Immigrants are the backbone of America. Diversity is our strength that exists nowhere else on Earth. We must work together with compassion in addressing humanitarian needs and with resolve in securing our common future to protect the fundamental values that we cherish.

We call on Mayor Bowers to issue an immediate apology for his offensive and insensitive comments.

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