May 06, 2016

Hirono Hails Implementation Of Program To Reunite Filipino World War II Veterans With Their Children

Families Can Apply For Immigration Relief Beginning In June

HONOLULU – Senator Mazie K. Hirono today announced that certain family members of Filipino World War II veterans can finally apply to come to the United States to be reunited with their aging Filipino veteran family members who are U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents under a program announced by the Obama Administration last year. Applications will begin to be accepted next month.

“President Obama has taken an important action for Filipino WWII veterans who have been waiting patiently for decades to be reunited with their families. Filipino World War II veterans and their spouses, who are in their eighties or nineties, will finally be able to apply to bring their adult children to the United States,” said Senator Hirono. “I have heard from so many of these veterans in Hawaii and across the country who simply want family reunification. We will now have a concrete path for making that a reality. I will continue working with Filipino organizations and advocacy groups in Hawaii to ensure eligible veterans receive the necessary information and assistance with their applications so they can be with their spouses and children.”

“We celebrate this long awaited and historic day for our World War II Filipino-American veterans and their families,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. “We thank Senator Hirono for her leadership on this victory. We stand ready to assist in the implementation of this program and we rededicate ourselves to the hard work ahead to achieve permanent and comprehensive solutions to our broken immigration system.”

“We are heartened that the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program will soon begin accepting applications so that our country can more fully honor the bravery and sacrifices of these veterans and their service to our nation. NCAPA has been a strong advocate for this policy, and we are thankful for Senator Hirono’s leadership of this family reunification effort and a more lasting legislative solution. We hope that these Filipino veterans are reunited with their families as quickly as possible,” said Christopher Kang, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans National Director.

Filipino veterans were granted citizenship in recognition of their service to the United States during World War II. Their children, however, were not granted citizenship. Due to backlogs in the U.S. immigration system, it can take more than 20 years for immigration applications to be reviewed. Under the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Filipino World War II Veterans Parole (FWVP) Policy, Filipino veterans whose service has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense, or their surviving spouses, may apply to bring their children to the U.S. The policy will allow families who have been waiting, in some cases decades, for their immigration applications to be approved to be together rather than apart while their applications are processed. 

Senator Hirono has made fighting for Filipino veterans to receive this benefit a top priority during her time in Congress. After years of advocacy by Senator Hirono, the Obama Administration announced last July that it would create a parole program to reunite the families of Filipino World War II veterans. Senator Hirono pushed the Administration to quickly implement the program and make children eligible for expedited consideration to come to the United States.

While today’s action by the Obama Administration is significant, it does not replace the need for a change in law that would not only make it easier for the children of Filipino WWII Veterans to reunite, but also to have their applications for full citizenship processed more quickly. Senator Hirono has worked to make this legislative change and introduced the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act as a member of the U.S. House in the 110th, 111th, and 112th Congresses. At the time, Senator Daniel K. Akaka led this effort in the Senate. In the Senate, Senator Hirono introduced the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act bill in the 113th Congress on a bipartisan basis, and then successfully included it in the Senate passed Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill. Last year, Senator Hirono again reintroduced the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act on a bipartisan basis.