U.S. solon reintroduces Filipino veterans family reunification bill

by Kobakila News

WASHINGTON, DC (June 25) – United States Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) reintroduced a bill Wednesday (June 24) to reunite Filipino World War II veterans who are U.S. citizens and U.S. residents with their children in the Philippines who have languished for years on the visa waiting list.

Jesse Broder Van Dyke, Akaka’s spokesman said, the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act of 2009 is cosponsored by Senators Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), Edward M. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), and Maria Cantwell (D-Washington).

“In seeking an exemption from the numerical limitation on immigrant visas for the children of the Filipino veterans, our bill will address and resolve an issue rooted in a set of historical circumstances that are now nearly seven-decades old,” according to Senator Akaka, chairman of the U.S. Veterans Affairs Committee.  “It does not require any appropriation and will serve to reunite these veterans with their children and honor their too-long-forgotten World War II service to this nation.”

According to the press statement, of the 30,000 surviving Filipino World War II veterans, 7,000 are U.S. citizens and reside in the U.S.

Many filed visa petitions for their children, who remained in the Philippines.  Now in their 80s and 90s, these men continue to wait for their children, who languish on the visa waiting lists, to join them.   This legislation exempts the veterans’ children, about 20,000 individual in all, from the numerical limitation on immigrant visas.

It will be recalled that 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 Rescissions 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, last February, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 (Public Law 111-5) 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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