Wednesday 07th December 2016,

Bad Ass Asians

Details announced for Filipino World War II veterans reuniting with their children

posted by Randall

By Ed Diokno
Filipino American WWII Veteran

The details of a new policy that will enable family members of Filipino World War II veterans to apply to come to the United States while waiting the issuance of their visas, were revealed Monday by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

 

“Just this week,” President Obama announced in his May 4 speech to the Asian American Institute of Congressional Studies, “we finalized a policy to help reunite Filipino World War II vets with their family members who are stuck in our immigration backlog.

 
This policy change, which will be in effect June 8, is in recognition of “the extraordinary contributions and sacrifices of Filipino veterans who fought for the United States during World War II,” stated a press release from Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
“Advancing Justice | AAJC is proud to have played a leading role in the advocacy effort that resulted in this long-awaited relief for Filipino World War II veterans and their families,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of AAJC. “This action is long overdue.”

 

The Filipinos soldiers were promised by President Delano Roosevelt, U.S. citizenship and military benefits if they joined the U.S. forces at the start of WWII. More than 260,000 Filipinos joined the U.S. military forces stationed in the Philippines Commonwealth, which was still an American colony.

 

Immediately after the war, the U.S. Congress passed the Recession Acts, which essentially reneged on Roosevelt’s promise. Ever since then, the veterans have been fighting for recognition and for the fulfillment of that promise. In a series of small hard-fought victories, that recognition and the debt owed the thousands of Filipino vets was eventually granted to the veterans but not to their families.

 

The case of the Filipino veterans became a cause celebre in the Asian American community resulting in rallies and lobbying on behalf of the  vets. Sympathetic lawmakers sponsored dozens of bills supporting the Filipinos’ fight for equity.

 

In time, citizenship and benefits was granted to those who met the stringent requirements and had their documents, many of which were destroyed or lost during the Japanese Occupation. Over the years, the requirements were loosened and extended to a larger number of veterans to include those who fought in the guerrilla forces during the war.

 

Eventually, the spouses and young children were allowed to join the veterans, but not their elder children. The older children had to join the long wait for new immigrants, which in the Philippines is more than 20 years.

 

RELATED: Filipino veterans – A shameful anniversary for the U.S. Congress

The parole policy, also known as Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act of 2015, was approved in September last year. It covers veterans’ surviving spouses who petition for their adult children to join them in the U.S. Furthermore, family members may be able to seek reinstatement of immigration petitions filed through veterans who are now deceased, and then self-petition for parole.

Estimates indicate that there are approximately 2,000 to 6,000 Filipino American World War II Filipino veterans still alive in the United States today, many of whom greatly desire to have their family members with them during their final days.

“If even 10 apply, it’s still the right thing to do,” said Rodel ­Rodis, a San Francisco-based lawyer who for decades, has done pro bono work on behalf of the veterans.

Moua continued, “Even as we celebrate this victory and rejoice that our veterans will finally reunite with their loved ones, we recognize there are many in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community who remain separated from their family members. Advancing Justice | AAJC advocates for reforms to the immigration system so that immigrants will not have to endure decades-long backlogs as they await reunification with their loved ones.”

 

Advancing Justice | AAJC will continue to work with the Obama Administration and fellow advocates to reach out to the Filipino American community and their relatives in the Philippines with information about the program. In addition, the organization looks forward to supporting outreach efforts and expedient implementation of the program.

 

Details of this new policy can be found in the Federal Register, where it was filed two days ago.

For more information, contact Maura Nicholson, Deputy Chief, International Operations Division, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Suite 3300, Washington, DC 20529, Telephone 202-272-1892. (This is not a toll-free number.)


H.R. 2737: Congressional Gold Medal for vets.

In other news, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) spoke on the House floor last month to call for quick passage of H.R. 2737 to award Filipino Veterans of WWII the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the U.S. Congress. The legislation, introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in June 2015, has 76 cosponsors in the U.S. House, and is partnered with S.1555 in the U.S. Senate.

“There are more than 200,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers who responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-duty. They fought under our American flag during World War II.

“These loyal and courageous soldiers suffered, fought, and gave up their lives alongside their American counterparts throughout the war. Yet decades have gone by, and they are still waiting for their service to be recognized.

“I’ve introduced H.R. 2737, legislation that is strongly supported by members of both parties, and in both chambers, to award these deserving veterans the Congressional Gold Medal so that our country can show our appreciation and recognize them for their dedicated service and sacrifice in defeating the Imperial Japanese Army.

“Today there are just 18,000 of these Filipino World War II veterans who are still alive today. Time is of the essence. We cannot afford to wait. I urge my colleagues to quickly pass this legislation so that these courageous men may be honored while they are still among us.”

 

(Ed Diokno writes a blog :Views From The Edge: news and analysis from an Asian American perspective.)

(AsAmNews is an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. You can show your support by liking our Facebook page at  www.facebook.com/asamnews, following us on Twitter and sharing our stories).

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