Santa Fe (detention facility)


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US Gov Name Santa Fe Internment Camp
Facility Type Department of Justice Internment Camp
Administrative Agency U.S. Department of Justice
Location Santa Fe, New Mexico (35.6833 lat, -105.9333 lng)
Date Opened February 1942
Date Closed September 1946
Population Description Held people of Japanese descent from the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawa'ii, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands. Later included internees transferred from Tule Lake segregation center: 866 Japanese American "renunciants," those who had given up their U.S. citizenship, and 313 designated "troublemakers." After 1942, German and Italian nationals were held here.
General Description Located 2.5 miles west of the Santa Fe city center, this 80-acre site in northern New Mexico included a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp.
Peak Population 2,100 (1945-06-01)
National Park Service Info
  • The security at this facility was similar to that of a military prison: the camp was encircled by twelve-foot-high barbed-wire fences and eleven guard towers with searchlights. The guards were heavily equipped with rifles, side arms, and tear gas.
  • This camp operated in two phases. The first phase was as a temporary detention facility that held 826 Japanese immigrants from California who were all sent to War Relocation Authority (WRA) camps by September 1942. The next phase began in February 1943 and included internees transferred from U.S. Army camps as well as issei, nisei, and kibei "troublemakers" from the Tule Lake segregation center.
  • On March 12, 1945, tensions erupted at Santa Fe following weeks of conflict between the camp administration and a group of internees from Tule Lake. Guards fired tear gas into a crowd of 250 and began beating the internees. Four were seriously injured and the guards isolated 350 others. Seventeen were transferred to the high-security facility at Fort Stanton, New Mexico.

For More Information

Culley, John J. "The Santa Fe Internment Camp and the Justice Department Program for Enemy Aliens." In Japanese Americans: From Relocation to Redress. Edited by Roger Daniels, Sandra C. Taylor, and Harry H. L. Kitano. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1986. Revised edition. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991. 57-71.

Melzer, Richard. "Casualties of Caution and Fear: Life in Santa Fe’s Japanese Internment Camp, 1942–46." In Essays in Twentieth-Century New Mexico History. Edited by Judith Boyce DeMark. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1994. 213–40.

Okawa, Gail. "Finding American World War II Internment in Santa Fe: Voices Through Time." In Telling New Mexico: A New History. Edited by Marta Weigle. Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press, 2009. 360–73.

__________. "Ironies of World War II: Hawai'i Japanese Internee Fathers and American Military Sons in Santa Fe." In Sunshine and Shadows in New Mexico's Past: The Statehood Period. Edited by Richard Melzer. Los Ranchos, NM: Rio Grande Books and Historical Society of New Mexico, 2010. 161–71.

__________. "Putting Their Lives on the Line: Personal Narrative as Political Discource among Japanese Petitioners in American World War II Internment." College English 74 (Sept. 2011): 50–68.