Reintroduced bill aims to reunite Filipino WWII veterans with their children

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Lawmakers have reintroduced a bipartisan bill to speed up the visa process for children of Filipino World War II veterans.

On Tuesday, the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act was reintroduced by Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Representatives Ed Case (D, HI-1) and Jen Kiggans (R, VA-2) to exempt the sons and daughters of Filipino WWII veterans from numerical limitations on immigrant visas.

The law would benefit thousands of people, including those already waiting in the visa application queue.

“Filipino soldiers served our country with honor and bravery during World War II. But for too long, they’ve been denied many of the rights and benefits they deserve, including the ability to reunify with their families in the U.S.,” Senator Hirono said in a press release.

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There were more than 260,000 Filipino soldiers who fought for America from 1941 to 1946 when the Philippines was a U.S. colony.

In 1990, Former President George H. W. Bush granted U.S. citizenship to about 26,000 Filipino nationals who served the U.S. during WWII. However, the law did not grant citizenship or residency to the veterans’ children. To this day, Filipino applicants must wait nearly 20 years before their applications are considered.

In 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services implemented the Filipino WWII Veterans Parole program to reunite veterans with their families. However, the extensive delays are leaving applicants without certainty as dozens of the surviving veterans are now over 100 years old.

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The new legislation would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act, providing a permanent solution for WWII veterans who were naturalized under the 1990 law or other specified laws.

Senator Lisa Murkowski said in a press release:

To express our gratitude to the brave Filipino service members who fought for our nation in WWII, we should do what is right and fair for our veterans and their family members. This bill will reunite mothers and fathers with their children, and honor the service of Filipino veterans who served under the American flag.

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“I’m proud to reintroduce the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act to reunite these veterans with their loved ones,” Hirono added. “I will continue working to support Filipino veterans, their families, and all veterans in Hawaii and across our country.”

Hirono has been leading the bipartisan Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act since 2013. She also led the introduction of the Filipino American History Month (FAHM) Resolution, which recognizes October as FAHM and celebrates the heritage and contributions of Filipino Americans. Due to her years of advocacy, Congress finally awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino WWII veterans in October 2017 after decades of fighting for recognition.

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