Some 47,000 of these people had been born in Japan and were known as Issei, or first-generation immigrants, and 98 percent had come to America prior to the Oriental Exclusion Act of 1924, with almost half arriving before 1910. Most were ineligible for American citizenship, and in many states they were forbidden from owning land. Another 80,000 were born in America and were known as Nisei (second-generation) or Sansei (third generation). They held American citizenship because they were born on American soil, and most had been educated in American schools and had been indoctrinated wit democratic principles. While they could own land, they were subject to a variety of discrimination, as were their parents (Thomas and Nishimoto 1-2).
Most of the early restrictions imposed on the Japanese minority after the start of the war applied only to the "enemy aliens" within the group, but this became a discriminatory excuse because almost all immigrants of Japanese origin were, because of their ineligibility for citizenship, automatically classified as "enemy aliens." This was in sharp contrast to the situation facing immigrants from the other two enemy nations, Italy and Germany, for a large proportion of these people had become naturalized American citizens and so were exempt from the enemy-alien classification. Presidential proclamations were issued immediately