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First internees arrive at Kenedy Alien Detention Camp

April
21
1942

On this day in 1942, the first group of internees--456 Germans, 156 Japanese, and 14 Italians--arrived at the Kenedy Alien Detention Camp on the outskirts of Kenedy, Texas. The United States Border Patrol had entered into an agreement to lease a former Civilian Conservation Corps camp for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The lease was made for the purpose of establishing an internment camp for aliens from the United States and Latin America who were considered dangerous to the public safety. At the outset of World War II, when conditions were bleak for the Allies, the U.S. undertook to protect its national interests by entering into agreement with Latin-American countries to arrest and intern all resident aliens or citizens of German, Japanese, or Italian descent who could possibly aid the Axis war effort. From the time the Kenedy Camp received its first internees until it was converted into a prisoner of war camp on October 1, 1944, more than 3,500 aliens passed through its gates.

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