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US immigration

‘Worse than the internment camps’: ‘Star Trek’ actor George Takei slams Donald Trump’s ‘horrifying’ immigration policy

Takei, 81, who played Sulu in the original ‘Star Trek’ series, says the policy of dividing immigrant families is even worse than the Japanese internment camps he experienced as a child

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2018, 12:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2018, 3:12am

Actor George Takei has slammed US President Donald Trump’s policy of separating migrant families, including asylum seekers, and putting their children in holding camps, saying that the system is worse than the internment camps for Japanese-Americans he experienced as a child.

The 81-year-old, best known for playing helmsman Sulu in the 1960s Star Trek series, wrote in an editorial for Foreign Policy  that “it is hard to describe the terror and anxiety” created by a “capricious” government, as “the only people with the power to help have trained their guns and dogs upon you. You are without rights, held without charge or trial. The world is upside down, information-less, and indifferent or even hostile to your plight.

“And yet, with hideous irony, I can still say, ‘At least during the internment …’”

In 1942, after America had entered the second world war following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour, a five-year-old Takei – a Los Angeles native – was taken with his parents by US authorities and placed in a series of internment camps, the first of which was simply a converted horse stable.

Takei, who turned his traumatic memories into the musical Allegiance, writes in the Foreign Policy piece that his parents were able to “put themselves between us and the horror … so that we would never fully appreciate the grim reality of the mosquito-infested swamp into which we had been thrown”.

Why Trump wants to separate immigrant children from their parents

That luxury is not afforded to the children of asylum seekers and migrants separated from their families near the Mexican border, the actor said.

“At least during the internment of Japanese-Americans, I and other children were not stripped from our parents,” Takei wrote. “We were not pulled screaming from our mothers’ arms. We were not left to change the diapers of younger children by ourselves.”

He wrote: “I cannot for a moment imagine what my childhood would have been like had I been thrown into a camp without my parents.

“That this is happening today fills me with both rage and grief: rage toward a failed political leadership who appear to have lost even their most basic humanity, and a profound grief for the families affected.”

Takei went on to denounce Trump’s “diversionary” claim that Democrats are responsible for his policy, and the White House’s claim that the policy is needed to stop criminals’ using children to sneak into the United States.

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“The broad brush of ‘criminal’ today raises echoes of the wartime ‘enemy’ to my ears,” he wrote. “Once painted, both marks are impossible to wash off.

“Trump prepared his followers for this day long ago, when he began to dehumanise Mexican migrants as drug dealers, rapists, murderers and animals. Animals might belong in cages. Humans don’t.”