Categorized | Government, News

Senator Akaka introduces Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Bill

MEDIA RELEASE

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) introduced a bill today to reunite Filipino World War II veterans with their children. The Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act of 2011 is cosponsored by Senators Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey). The text of the bill is also included in the Military Families Act introduced today by Senator Menendez.

“The Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act would resolve a seven-decade old issue by creating an exemption from the numerical limitation on immigrant visas granted to the children of WWII Filipino veterans,” Senator Akaka said. “In reuniting these veterans with their families, we will properly honor their World War II service to this nation.”

“For me, it has always been a matter of honor and recognition for the Filipino World War II veterans and the acknowledgment of their service to our country. The Filipinos, fought and died for our great nation. This legislation will bring families together and will further honor the courageous sacrifices made by these veterans during World War II,” said Senator Inouye.

At the end of World War II some Filipino veterans were offered U.S. citizenship in recognition of their service, however the offer did not extend to their children. As a result, the veterans who came to the United States have had to file permanent resident petitions to reconnect with their children who have remained in the Philippines on the visa waiting list for years. Now in their 80s and 90s, these men continue to wait for their children to join them in the U.S. This legislation exempts the veterans’ children, about 20,000 individuals in all, from the numerical limitation on immigrant visas. Of the surviving Filipino World War II veterans, it is estimated that 6,000 are U.S. citizens and reside in this country.

Senators Akaka and Inouye are veterans of World War II.

HISTORY OF FILIPINO WWII VETERANS

In 1941, over 200,000 Filipinos were drafted into the United States armed forces and served honorably during World War II. In 1946, Congress passed the Rescission Act, which authorized a $200 million appropriation to the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines conditioned on a provision that service in the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines should not be deemed to have been service in the active military or air service of the United States.

It would take Congress more than four decades to acknowledge that the Filipino World War II veterans had, indeed, served in the U.S. armed forces. The Immigration Act of 1990 included a provision that offered the opportunity to obtain U.S. citizenship. And nineteen years later, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 included a provision that authorized the payment of benefits to the 30,000 surviving Filipino veterans in the amount of $15,000 for those who are citizens and $9,000 for those who are non-citizens.

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