SAN ANTONIO – Update (11:20 a.m. Friday): A spokesperson for Rep. Joaquin Castro has released the following statement to KSAT regarding the push for the bill:
“Congressman Castro is continuing to prepare this bill for introduction and invites his fellow members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, to join him as original co-sponsors. He thanks Dr. Teresa Van Hoy and the history students at St. Mary’s University for their advocacy.”
Original: A national movement that began at St. Mary’s University five years ago continues to push for federal legislation, formally acknowledging the government’s internment of German-Americans at a camp in Crystal City, southwest of San Antonio, during World War II.
History students led by professor Teresa Van Hoy reported they had at least 240 signed letters urging Congressman Joaquin Castro to push for passage of the legislation he proposed, in hopes it could be enacted and signed by President Joe Biden on Feb. 27, 2023, to mark the 75th anniversary of the camp’s closing.
Nate Liveris, a freshman and this year’s student leader of the project, said German-Americans “have every right to be recognized along with Japanese-Americans and Italian-Americans.”
They also were deemed by the U.S. government at the time as “enemy aliens,” leading to their interments.
Liveris said, “The whole goal is to ensure that they are remembered and exonerated from all the accusations that they were charged of, and wrongfully imprisoned.”
He said they are especially mindful of the children who were interned there and who are now in their 80s and 90s.
“They’re still having to live with this legacy of imprisonment by the United States government,” Liveris said.
He and Charles Rickets, a freshman assisting Liveris, spoke via Zoom to one of the former child internees, Werner Ulrich Jr.
“We’re happy to represent you,” Rickets told him.
“I’m absolutely grateful,” Ulrich said. “I don’t want to see Crystal City die away, and it will if we don’t do anything. It will die away.”