The U.S. government is urging Japanese-Latin Americans who were taken from their homes in Latin America and held in U.S. internment camps during World War II to apply for U.S. redress before the deadline expires.

Under an agreement announced by the U.S. Justice Department last month, Japanese-Latin Americans interned during the war will be entitled to receive $5,000 and a U.S. government apology. This agreement resolves a 1996 civil suit filed by five former Japanese-Latin American internees who had been denied redress under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, under which Japanese-Americans received apologies and restitution for the fundamental injustice of their forced evacuation, relocation and internment during the war.

The U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Redress Administration said it has received approximately 600 claims to date from Japanese-Latin Americans who were denied redress under the 1988 act. The plaintiffs estimate that more than 2,000 Japanese-Latin Americans were interned during the war, but that only 1,300 may still be alive.

After winning redress for themselves, the five individuals filed a suit on behalf of all Japanese-Latin Americans who were interned under similar circumstances.

During the war, Latin American nations deported more than 2,000 of their citizens or residents of Japanese descent to the United States to be held in internment camps. Over the past eight years, ORA has denied the claims of many of these internees because they were neither U.S. citizens nor permanent resident aliens during their internment.

“We will work hard to reach any Japanese-Latin American who may be eligible under this settlement,” said DeDe Greene, ORA administrator. “As long as there’s time, we will keep searching for claimants.”

Those eligible who have not yet applied for redress should send a letter to ORA postmarked by Aug. 10. Claims must be received by Sept. 4.

Individuals are requested to provide the following information, if known: full name, name used during internment, date and place of birth, place of internment, current address and telephone number.

For more information, contact ORA’s 24-hour help line at 1-202-219-6900; or write to P.O. Box 66260, Washington, D.C. 20053-6260; or visit the Justice Department Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ora/main.html Information is also available through the U.S. Embassy fax service: (03) 3224-2655.

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