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Ms. HIRONO. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to reintroduce two versions of the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act, both of which will provide for the expedited reunification of the families of our Filipino World War II veterans.
*The first version I am introducing is a companion to S. 1141, a bill recently introduced by Senator Daniel K. Akaka. I am introducing this bill in acknowledgement of his leadership on this issue.
*The second version I am introducing is identical to earlier versions of the bill that I have introduced in the 110th and 111th Congresses. S. 1141 differs from these earlier versions of the bill in that it provides that the petitions filed by the sponsoring Filipino veteran shall remain valid regardless of whether the petitioning parent is living or dead.
* As you know, Filipino veterans are those that honorably answered the call of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and served alongside our armed forces during World War II. They fought shoulder to shoulder with American servicemen; they sacrificed for the same just cause. We made a promise to provide full veterans' benefits to those who served with our troops. And while we have recently made appreciable progress toward fulfilling that long-ignored promise, we have not yet achieved the full equity that the Filipino veterans deserve.
* In 1990, the Congress recognized the courage and commitment of the Filipino World War II veterans by providing them with a waiver from certain naturalization requirements. Many veterans thereafter became proud United States citizens and residents of our country. However, allowances were not made for their children and many have been waiting decades for petition approval.
* The Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act would allow for the further recognition of the service of the veterans by granting their children a special immigration status that would allow them to immigrate to the United States and be reunified with their aging parents. It is important to note that the Filipino soldiers who fought under the command of General Douglas McArthur at this critical time in our nation's history represent a unique category. These soldiers were members of the United States Armed Forces of the Far East. They were led to believe that at the end of the conflict they would be treated the same as American soldiers. It took more than sixty years to begin to make good on our commitment. The Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act recognizes the special circumstances of this group of soldiers.
* I look forward to working with my colleagues by providing for the reunification of our Filipino World War II veterans with their families.
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