Lawyer Wayne Collins Topic of New Documentary Specializing in His Protection of Tule Lake Renunciants

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Attorney Wayne Collins Subject of New Documentary Focusing on His Defense of Tule Lake Renunciants

Lawyer Wayne Collins in his San Francisco office. 1942. (Courtesy Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley)

Wayne Mortimer Collins (1899-1974), the San Francisco-based attorney who represented more than 5,500 renunciates at the end of World War II and was primarily responsible for securing US citizenship in the landmark Abo v. Clark was the subject of a new documentary by filmmaker Sharon Yamato and Visual Communications, Inc., due to be completed in 2021.

Collins spent 23 years preparing and filing more than 10,000 affidavits in federal court to ensure that those who gave up because of government coercion while in custody were not deprived of legal US citizenship. He worked in collaboration with the Tule Lake Defense Committee, under the direction of former Tule Lake inmate Tex Nakamura, who later became a lawyer in Los Angeles.

Known for filing unpopular cases with Japanese Americans that no one else would consider, Collins, along with ACLU's Ernest Besig of Northern California, represented those incarcerated in the infamous Tule Lake Palisade that the government considered "Prison in a prison" is known. imposed segregation center. At the end of the war, he also helped prevent the deportation to Japan of Japanese Peruvians who were taken hostage by the US government and detained in Crystal City, Texas.

Two of his well-known Japanese-American cases were the defense of Fred Korematsu, who challenged the government's expulsion order, and the accused traitor Iva Toguri d & # 39; Aquino, the so-called "Tokyo Rose". He was also asked by attorney James Purcell to submit a written argument in support of the Mitsuye Endo case to the Supreme Court.

Perhaps his hardest-earned awards are the result of the Herculean task of representing thousands of renunciates. Not only was it heralded by survivors of Lake Tule and their descendants, but also mentioned in no fewer than four books, including Michi Nishiura Weglyn's landmark "Years of Shame: The Untold Story of America's Concentration Camps" and Hiroshi Kashiwagi's "Swimming in the American: A reminder and selected writings. "

Additionally, actor George Takei noted, “I'm one of those people whose life was changed by Wayne Collins. I often wonder what my life would have been like if he hadn't fought fiercely to regain my mother's US citizenship. "

Yamato, whose other films include the WWII documentaries based on the life of the teenage boy Stanley Hayami, and Moving Walls, which record the barracks remaining in the Heart Heart camp, are currently searching Individuals, including Tule Lake families and their descendants, who have had interactions with or knowledge of Collins and his staff. People with information are asked to contact them at (Email protected).

The film is being produced on a grant from the National Park Service (NPS) Department of the Interior under the JACS (Japanese American Confinement Sites) program. These funds are used to award JACS grants to private non-profit organizations. Educational institutions; state, local, and tribal governments; and other public maintenance and interpretation institutions in US detention centers where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II. Additional funding was also received from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Project.

For more information on this project, contact Yamato at (E-Mail Protected). If you have any questions about the JACS funding program, please contact JACS Program Manager Kara Miyagishima at (303) 969-2885.

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