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Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Reunite Filipino Veterans with Children

May 25, 2019, 9:00 AM HST (Updated May 24, 2019, 3:17 PM)
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U.S. lawmakers have introduced legislation that would expedite visas for children of Filipino World War II veterans.

Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaiʻi) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act on Wednesday in an effort to reunite children with American service members. Due to a visa backlog, Filipino applicants must wait more than two decades before their applications are considered.

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“During World War II, Filipino soldiers stepped up and answered the call to service, fighting and sacrificing alongside American servicemembers,” Sen. Hirono said. “However, because these family members have been stuck in a decades-long visa backlog, they have not been able to reunite with their relatives in the United States. The Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act would fulfill our nation’s promise to honor Filipino World War II veterans’ service to our country and reunite these families.”

“During World War II, the Philippines were under United States control. Thousands of brave Filipinos put their lives on the line and fought side-by-side with American soldiers under our flag. They did so with the understanding that they would be treated equal to American veterans, but unfortunately their fight for fair compensation and recognition continues today,” Sen. Murkowski said. “Most of the Filipino veterans that served America during WWII are now in their 80s and 90s. Many have been separated from their children for far too long. This is more than just a humanitarian gesture—this is about honoring veterans and their families for their sacrifices during the war and throughout the decades that followed.”

More than 260,000 Filipino soldiers served during World War II. There are nearly 6,000 Filipino World War II veterans currently living in the U.S. who could benefit from the proposed law, according to a news release by Sen. Hirono’s office.

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