Santa Cruz County History - Executive Order 9066 and the Residents of Santa Cruz County

Evacuation: The Restricted Area
by Rechs Ann Pedersen

Posted throughout Santa Cruz prohibited areas are posters warning enemy aliens that they must leave prohibited zone by midnight, February 24. The placards, in English, German, Italian, and Japanese, say: "Notice--Enemy aliens prohibited area No. 28--The United States government requires all aliens of German, Italian or Japanese nationality to vacate this area by midnight Feb. 24. Go to the nearest local public employment office of the United States employment service for details." (Santa Cruz Sentinel-News. [E] February 17, 1942. p. 9.)

"After all, gentlemen, we are at war!"

Calls for the removal of axis aliens and Japanese-Americans appear in the local newspapers throughout the first months of the War. The justifications given were that evacuation would protect the country against sabotage and that it was impossible to tell a loyal American of Japanese ancestry from disloyal one. A couple of typical examples:

January 31, 1941:

Los Angeles (UP)--President Roosevelt was asked Friday night by the League of California Cities to order the immediate evacuation of all Japanese, American-born as well as aliens, from the entire "combat zone" along the west coast. The message to the President explained a "concerted and well-timed attack by saboteurs on a state-wide basis could inflict irreparable damage" and said city officials believed now was the time to act. (Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. January 31, 1941 p. 2 )

February 4, 1942:

There are two current schools of thought in Santa Cruz regarding enemy alien orders...It can readily be seen why a blanket order should be issued. Who, after Pearl Harbor, is to determine the spy from the gentle old man? Who could possibly take the responsibility of weeding the evil from the good? And why should the lives of thousands, even locally, be endangered because one bad apple might be scrutinized and labeled "OK."... After all, gentlemen, we are at war! (Santa Cruz Sentinel-News, [E] February 4, 1942. p. 2)

The Restricted Area

Executive Order 9066 is known as the document that authorized the evacuation and, ultimately, the internment of the Japanese and Japanese-Americans. However, prior to Executive Order 9066, the U.S. Justice Department created restricted areas. Axis aliens, not citizens, were banned from these areas. San Francisco and Los Angeles already had restricted areas when the U.S. Justice Department announced plans to create additional ones on January 29, 1942. Although the details were not known yet, leaders in the Italian and the Japanese communities reacted to the news:

January 30, 1942:

Santa Cruz' many Japanese, Italian and German aliens did not look too happily Friday upon threat of their forced removal from vital areas, which undoubtedly would include Santa Cruz, and subsequent action today which would restrict their holding of lands and possibility of revoking all their business and professional licenses...

Kadotani is president of the Japanese Association here and is fully recognized as spokesman. He had been an organizer of the earlier meeting here of businessmen and officials with Japanese leaders to insure friendly relations despite the war.
"I hope it doesn't come," he said, "but if it does we'll abide by the rules and take it."
He estimated at least one or two in every local Japanese family would be affected since the parents are almost entirely of Japanese birth...

Italian fishermen at the wharf who would be affected by such an order are "taking it on the chin like real men," a spokesman for them, Robbie Ghio of Santa Cruz Fisheries, said.
"Their reaction is that they'll take it just the way it comes. They're giving their flesh and blood to the navy and their money to the government, but what the government says they'll do."...
(Santa Cruz Sentinel-News. [E] January 30, 1942. p.1 Full-Text )

The restricted area was a coastal strip running the whole length of the western United States. In Santa Cruz County, the evacuation area included workplaces and homes, impacting Italian and German aliens in Santa Cruz, as well as Japanese aliens.

February 2, 1942:

The federal alien crackdown reached Santa Cruz County Monday...The restricted area, following route no. 1, includes the 12 aliens on the wharf, cuts across the city [of Santa Cruz] to include Live Oak, Twin Lakes, Capitola, and all the territory inside the Watsonville-Santa Cruz highway. Hundreds of aliens of all three nationalities are affected. In some local areas it will be necessary for entire families to move. (Santa Cruz Sentinel-News. [E] February 2, 1942. p. 1)

February 3, 1942:

The Watsonville end of the county is sparsely populated in the restricted zone although there is a colony of Japanese farmers along the Beach road. Unofficial estimates revealed that between 20,000 and 25,000 people of the county's 45,000 inhabitants live in the restricted zone. Of these people, about 1500 families have alien members that will have to move out. In some instances the entire family will have to move, but those will be rare cases. According to Attorney General Biddle, the aliens must be moved out of the restricted area by February 24. (Santa Cruz Sentinel-News. [M] February 3, 1942. p.1)

Hardest hit will be the Italian fishing colony at the wharf and the artichoke growers up the coast The Watsonville end of the county is sparsely populated in the restricted zone although there is a colony of Japanese farmers along the Beach Road. (Santa Cruz Sentinel-News. [M] February 3, 1942. p.1 Full-Text)

Because many Italian and Japanese aliens worked in fishing and agriculture--vital food production--it was hoped that they might be excluded from the evacuation order, but they were not. For more information, see Labor Shortage.

Young children in alien Italian families facing removal from the federal-designated restricted area in Santa Cruz are frightened, adults are bewildered and worried, the fishing industry at the wharf will be hard hit and boys are holding up enlisting for navy service because of the threat to the breadwinner of the families (Santa Cruz Sentinel-News. [E] February 3, 1942. p. 8. Full-Text)

Families who had homes within the restricted area, had to find housing elsewhere. There were charges of rent profiteering.

February 12, 1942:

NEW ALIEN PROFITEERING CHARGES ARE HURLED HERE ... Mary Carniglia ... claim[ed] that in some cases, landlords are jumping rents because of the home scarcity, that others are taking deposits and then renting the home to higher bidders and returning the original deposit and that still others are refusing to rent homes to families with children. (Santa Cruz Sentinel-News. [E] February 12, 1942 p. 1.)

February 13, 1942:

... refuted statements that those families forced to move from this prohibited area are being subjected to rent profiteering.(Santa Cruz Sentinel-News. [E] February 13, 1942 p. 1 Full-Text)

The Japanese Aliens

February 4, 1942:

Pajaro valley's alien Japanese population will accept quietly the government's edict, removing them from a coastal area roughly bounded by State Highway no. I ... Motoki said he believed the loyal Japanese could do a better job of policing the entire Japanese population than any government, city or county organization could do. "We know our own people," he said.

Twenty-three families within the city limits would be affected by the order. Not all members of the family are aliens, however, but non-aliens would probably want to move to keep the families intact. Average size of a Japanese family is five.

In areas outside of Watsonville Japanese families with one or more alien members are:

  • Roache district and Larkin valley - 26 families.
  • Beach road district - 15 families.
  • Pajaro - three families.
  • Springfield and Trafton district - four families.

(Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. p. 1 Full-Text)

February 14, 1942:

The Watsonville chapter of the Japanese American Citizens' League went "over the top" by $12,000 in its defense bonds sales campaign ... The original goal in the month-long drive was $25,000 but sales totaled $37, 211.75... (Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. February 14,1942. p. 1)

The German Aliens

Only one reference to German aliens was found in the local newspapers. On February 13, 1942, George M. Heckel, a 73-year old local resident, committed suicide. He was a German alien who lived in the restricted area and was despondent over moving out of his home. Months later, a follow up article appeared.

AGED GERMAN "ENEMY ALIEN" WHO COMMITTED SUICIDE HAD HIS SAVINGS IN $500 WAR BOND (Santa Cruz Sentinel-News. [M] October 14, 1942. p.1 Full-Text)

>>Continue with Evacuation: Public Proclamation No. 1

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