March 13, 2013

Filipino WWII Veterans Get Influential Support

A bill that would make it easier for World War II Filipino veterans to be reunited with their families today won the support of two influential senators, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez.

Menendez is part of a bipartisan group of senators who has been working on a package of immigration reforms, and his backing is a hopeful sign the cause of the Filipino veterans, including hundreds in Hawaii, will be a part of the immigration discussion. However, it was unknown if it will be included in the as-yet-unreleased package. Reid and Menendez declined to say if their support was influenced by Sen. Daniel Inouye’s long-time push for it.

A spokesman for Sen. Mazie Hirono, who sponsored the bill, said the senator was “hopeful” of it being proposed as part of the package or added to it as an amendment. Sen. Brian Schatz is a co-sponsor of the bill.

Reid and Menendez’s support buoyed the hopes of veterans. Eric Lachica, executive director of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, said, “We are very much optimistic. We have been assured by the staff of Reid, Hirono, Schatz and Menendez our bill is non-controversial and will be included in any final comprehensive immigration reform legislation."

The bill would waive the relatives of the veterans, who fought alongside U.S. troops during the war, from being subject to annual limits on how many Filipinos are allowed to immigrate. Because of those limits, the veterans said they’ve waited decades for their families to be given permission to join them.

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Source: Honolulu Civil Beat