Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act introduced in Congress

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NEW legislation has been presented in both the Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday, May 22 to expedite the visa process for children of Filipino World War II veterans.

The Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act was introduced by Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Reps. Ed Case (D-Hawaii) and Don Young (R-Alaska) in the House.

Currently, estimates show that there are less than 6,000 Filipino World War II veterans still living in the United States who could potentially benefit from the Act.

“During World War II, Filipino soldiers stepped up and answered the call to service, fighting and sacrificing alongside American servicemembers,” Hirono said in a statement.“However, because these family members have been stuck in a decades-long visa backlog, they have not been able to reunite with their relatives in the United States. The Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act would fulfill our nation’s promise to honor Filipino World War II veterans’ service to our country and reunite these families.”

More than 260,000 Filipino soldiers followed America’s call to fight under the American flag in World War II. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush granted U.S. citizenship to about 26,000 Filipino nationals in recognition of their service to the United States during World War II.

However, the 1990 law did not confer citizenship or residency to the veterans’ children, who remained separated from their parents. Due to a visa backlog, Filipino applicants must wait more than two decades before their applications are considered.

Actions taken to address the family separation in recent years have included the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole program in 2016, which intended to reunite veterans and their surviving spouses with adult children and certain other relatives.

In addition to Senators Hirono, Murkowski, and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

“The time to reunite our brave Filipino American World War II veterans with their families is running out,” Brendan Flores, National Chairman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, said. “We commend Senator Hirono for her unwavering commitment to these veterans, as she reintroduces the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act in Congress. We remain prepared to support any efforts to ensure that this time-sensitive legislation comes to fruition.” (AJPress)

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