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Santa Cruz County History - Executive Order 9066 and the Residents of Santa Cruz County
Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. May 21, 1943. p. 3
WAR PRISONER FARM HANDS
The much-discussed problem of Japanese evacuees - including the issue of feeding, housing, doctoring, educating and otherwise caring for 107,000 west coast Japs in the country's 10 relocation centers which apparently are about to be discontinued - has presented more trouble than the original serpent had scales.
Much printer's ink has been consumed in this and other newspapers on suggestions and ideas as to what should be done but however else those Japs "presumed to be loyal" are disposed of by the War Department, California has made it spectacularly clear that this state doesn't want them relocated on its farms or any place else in this critical war zone.
But the farm labor problem is still unsolved, while the season speeds on toward harvesting time and farmers worry and wonder if this year the federal government will heed the warning and get promised Mexican labor here in time to save the crops - a project bungled last year.
Meanwhile, a proposal is heard which some believe has far more merit than that of sending the Japs back to this coast. Prisoners of war, transported from battle zones by hundreds of thousands, are being concentrated in eastern camps costly to set up and infinitely costly to maintain. Among them are tens of thousands of Italians, many of whom, it is proposed, might well be utilized under proper surveillance and safeguard to help produce the tremendous amounts of food required by the prison camps.
The Italian, it is argued, has not cared for this war, and certainly not for the part forced on him, from the beginning. He has exhibited that by giving up easily and agreeably on many occasions. The Italian, inherently, is not a belligerent nor a troublemaker. He honestly prefers peace. He has indicated he believes that the sooner this war is finished the sooner his country can relax to the peace and dignity long denied it by dictatorship. He has a natural friendly feeling for Americans. He is assimilable, as the Jap can never be. And he, as well as the Jap, is a born farmer.
The proposal will bear watching. Certainly it will be under debate in Congress very shortly, and if considered worth trying, California may be its proving ground.
Copyrighted by the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. Reproduced by permission.