The Trump administration’s separation of migrant families and detainment of young children has drawn frequent comparisons to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Among the most vocal critics of the president’s immigration policies is the 81-year-old Star Trek legend George Takei.
Takei would know: He spent more than four years of his childhood incarcerated in such a camp.
“At 5 years old, I was categorized as ‘enemy alien,’” Takei told Yahoo Entertainment during a recent visit to our studios (watch above). “It was absolutely insane.”
It didn’t matter that Takei was an American citizen, born in Los Angeles, or that his mother was also a citizen, born in Sacramento. “They imprison us for four-and-a-half years, and they give us $25 and a one-way ticket to anywhere in the United States. My parents decided to come back home to Los Angeles, but the hostility was still intense. Housing was impossible. Jobs were next to impossible. Our first home was on skid row in downtown L.A.”
Takei, who is launching a new social media platform TraceMe to connect with fans in a safe environment, has long been an activist focused on immigration and discrimination “because I didn’t want America to ever forget that chapter and inflict it again. And that’s been my mission in life. And I’m a failure at that because it’s happening again.”
The actor characterizes the people entering the southern border of the U.S. as asylum seekers. “To take their children away, I mean how evil. Malevolent,” he said. “And they’re so pathetically incompetent, they can’t put them back together again.” (The Washington Post reports that as of Aug. 1, there are 572 families yet to be reunited.)
“That’s the kind of world we’re living in today.”