Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) are supporting legislation that would reunite Filipino World War II veterans with their families. Certain Filipino veterans of World War II were offered U.S. citizenship in recognition of their service; however their children were not. As a result, the veterans who came to the United States could only reunite with their children by filing a petition and waiting in line, sometimes for more than twenty years.
These veterans, who served our nation bravely, are now in their 80s and 90s. Many are still waiting to reunite with their children. Introduced on March 5 by a group of Senate Democrats, the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act (S.461) 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 less than 6,000 are U.S. citizens and reside in this country and will thus be able to take advantage of this bill.
"In 1941, 250,000 Filipino veterans answered a call-to-arms by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and traveled to the far corners of the earth to protect the American virtues of freedom, liberty, and justice. It is time these brave patriots are reunited with their loved ones," said Nevada Senator Harry Reid.
"Our nation can never fully repay the debt we owe the Filipino World War II veterans who bravely served and sacrificed alongside American forces. The brave servicemen who are still with us, now in their eighties and nineties, should not have to wait any longer in order to be reunited with their children," said Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono.
"No service member -- especially aging Filipino veterans who served shoulder to shoulder with American soldiers in WWII -- should have to wait to be reunited with their families because of our outdated immigration system. We owe these brave veterans so much and this action is clearly and sorely overdue," said New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez.
"This is about ensuring we honor our commitment to all veterans," said Alaska Senator Mark Begich. "Filipino veterans deserve our gratitude and recognition for their brave service during WWII. I am pleased to support a bill that helps these veterans to finally be reunited with their families."
"I urge my Senate colleagues to help us continue the legacy of Senators Akaka and Inouye by honoring our brave Filipino veterans that have made sacrifices in order to keep our nation safe. It is critical that we work together to remove immigration barriers so that they can finally be reunited with their families," said Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz.