Leading up to World War II, minority Americans have had a long history facing racial discrimination in the United States, such as slavery and the Jim Crow laws against African Americans after the Civil War. When the United States entered World War II in 1941, its British Empire and Soviet Union allies were desperately holding their own against the Axis powers. At the time, the Axis powers defeated France, invaded the Soviet Union and controlled much of Europe and the Western Pacific. In order to win the war, the United States needed to fully mobilize its resources and recruit soldiers. Despite the Axis powers being on the verge of victory and the dire need for soldiers, the War Department was concerned that complete integration of soldiers would hurt the war effort because of racial issues. Instead the War Department allowed minority Americans to join the military and then segregated these soldiers into their own units to fight during World War II.
Although the United States government was concerned about the impact of racial issues on the war effort, the policy for segregation of military units during World War II was unnecessary because segregated units proved to be as loyal and successful in the battlefield as the rest of the military. Amongst the most acclaimed of these segregated units were Japanese Americans who proved their loyalty to the United States with their performance during World War II despite their difficult circumstances. Following the Pearl Harbor bombing by the Japanese Empire in December 1941, other Americans were suspicious of Japanese Americans' loyalty to the United States. Because of this suspicion, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 for the deportation of Japanese Americans to internment camps. The government also kept Japanese Americans from military service by changing their draft status from 1-A draft eligible to 4-C, "enemy alien.