New US bill would reunite Filipino WWII vets, spouses, children
WASHINGTON, DC –Leaders of Filipino-American organizations lauded a bill that would amend the Immigration Act of 1990, which led to the naturalization of Filipino World War II veterans but did not apply to their spouses and children.
The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) commended Congressman Mark Takai (Dem-Hawaii) for introducing the bill known as the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act of 2015 (HR 483).
“We thank Congressman Takai for resuming previous efforts to reunite Filipino veterans with their families, many of whom have been waiting for more than 20 years to obtain a green card,” says NaFFAA National Chair JT Mallonga.
“Because of numerical limits in the 1990 law, children of Filipino World War II veterans have had to wait up to 23 years to come to the US,” Mallonga added. “Our veterans are in their late 80s and early 90s and being separated from their loved ones is a big sacrifice. We hope Congress will act on this bipartisan bill soon, as a humanitarian gesture and as a way of thanking our veterans for their own sacrifice and service during the war.”
The organization also thanked Rep. Joseph Heck (GOP-Nevada) for co-sponsoring the measure. This latest initiative comes on the heels of another legislative proposal by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, Sen. Dean Heller and US Rep. Grace Meng to ensure that Filipino World War II veterans receive their rightful benefits.
Called “The Filipino Veterans Promise Amendment,” the bill would provide Filipino World War II veterans a process to prove that they indeed served and are eligible for the benefits they have been promised. About 4,000 veterans whose claims were rejected, have appealed to the Veterans Administration. They maintain that their rejection was based on unfair procedures in determining service eligibility.
Filipino American veterans advocates are also working on a separate issue that would secure a Congressional Gold Medal Award for Filipino veterans who served between December 1941 through July 1946, as members of the US Armed Forces of the Far East (USAFFE), Philippine Scouts or guerillas.
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