East Hawaii News

Push to Relax Immigration Rules on Families of Filipino WW2 Vets

March 13, 2013, 11:03 AM HST
* Updated March 13, 11:42 AM
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Hawaii Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz are part of a group of lawmakers in Washington DC supporting efforts to reunite Filipino veterans of World War II with their family members.

As Word War II came to a close, some of the estimated 250,000 Filipino nationals that served in the war were offered citizenship in the United States in recognition of their bravery. However at the time, the children of these veterans were exempted from gaining citizenship.

The resulting separation was often complicated by a lengthy petition process for visitation rights, sometimes resulting in wait times of more than 20 years.

An estimated 6,000 World War II veterans of Filipino ancestry remain living in the United States.

Hirono and Schatz have joined Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Robert Menendes (D-NJ), along with Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) in sponsoring the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act (S.461).

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The legislation would provide exemptions from the numerical limitation on immigrant visas for the estimated 20,000 children affected by current restrictions.

US Sen. Mazie Hirono. Image courtesy US Senate.

US Sen. Mazie Hirono. Image courtesy US Senate.

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“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 80s and 90s, should not have to wait any longer in order to be reunited with their children,” said Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono, in a statement released to the media.

 

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