WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (VA-02), Congressman Ed Case (HI-01), Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) reintroduced the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act, legislation that would speed up the visa process for children of Filipino World War II veterans.
“We owe an immense debt of gratitude to the many Filipino veterans who served alongside American service members in the Pacific Theater,” said Congresswoman Kiggans. “Ensuring that their families are justly rewarded for their service is the least we can do. I’m proud to join Senator Hirono, Senator Murkowski, and Congressman Case in introducing this commonsense, bipartisan bill to rightly recognize these veterans’ service and sacrifice!”
“More than 250,000 Filipino servicemembers who fought valiantly alongside us in World War Two were promised the opportunity to immigrate to our country and did, becoming proud and productive American citizens. But our visa caps and backlog have delayed their families joining them for decades, at a time when our Filipino WWII veterans have needed them the most. I’m honored to reintroduce this bipartisan, bicameral bill to do the right thing and allow those few remaining veterans to be reunited with their families in their country,” said Congressman Case.
“Filipino soldiers served our country with honor and bravery during World War II. But for too long, they’ve been denied many of the rights and benefits they deserve, including the ability to reunify with their families in the U.S.,” said Senator Hirono.“I’m proud to reintroduce the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act to reunite these veterans with their loved ones. I will continue working to support Filipino veterans, their families, and all veterans in Hawaii and across our country.”
“To express our gratitude to the brave Filipino servicemembers who fought for our nation in World War II, we should do what is right and fair for our veterans and their family members. This bill will reunite mothers and fathers with their children, and honor the service of Filipino veterans who served under the American flag,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski.
More than 260,000 Filipino soldiers followed America’s call to fight under the American flag in World War II, but there are only a few thousand of these veterans still alive. Despite their heroic service, Congress passed the Rescission Acts of 1946, which made Filipinos ineligible for benefits granted to other World War II veterans. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush granted U.S. citizenship to about 26,000 Filipino nationals in recognition of their service to the United States during World War II. However, the 1990 law did not confer citizenship or residency to the veterans’ children, who remained separated from their parents. Due to a visa backlog, some Filipino applicants must wait nearly twenty years before their applications are considered.
The Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act would provide a permanent solution by amending the Immigration and Nationality Act to exempt from global limits the sons and daughters of Filipino World War II veterans who were naturalized under the 1990 law or other specified laws.
The bill is endorsed by Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Church World Service, Filipino Bar Association of Northern California, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, National Immigration Forum, and National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).
The full text of the bill is available here. A one-pager is available here.