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[box type=”default” size=”large”] Their loved ones to come to the US under parole status [/box]

WASHINGTON, D.C. — “We are extremely pleased to hear the good news coming from the White House, that Filipino World War II Veterans will soon be reunited with their families,” said JT Mallonga, national chair of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).

“They have endured so much pain waiting for many years for this to happen. But with this latest executive action by the Obama administration, our ailing and aging heroes will no longer be separated from their loved ones,” Mallonga also said.

The immigration relief announced recently is part of a report issued by the Visa Modernization Task Force, an inter-agency group created last November as part of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

The Department of Homeland Security will now work with the State Department to establish a program that allows eligible family members of the veterans to come to the U.S. under parole status on a case-by-case basis, rather than through the general family immigration process.

As a White House official pointed out, “These are people who are eligible for immigration visas by virtue of their U.S. citizen family member, who also happens to be a veteran in the World War II. But because the family immigration system is so backlogged, it can take decades for them to actually get a visa.”

Mallonga thanked Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) for its advocacy of family reunification, calling on President Obama to grant parole for children of Filipino War World II veterans.

Mee Moua, AAJC president and executive director, said, “Even though the U.S. government promised Filipino World War II veterans U.S. citizenship in recognition of their service and contributions to America, it took more than 50 years before they actually received citizenship.  Until now, the inhumanely long visa backlog has separated them from their children and denied them the opportunity to live together in the United States. We’re grateful the Obama administration is taking action so our veterans can be reunited with their children and receive the love and care they need during their golden years. It’s long past time the United States made good on its promise, and we hope USCIS will implement this as soon as possible.”

“We appreciate as well the efforts of our US representatives and senators who have championed the cause of our veterans,” said Mallonga.  “They, like Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, have tried over the years to push for a bill on this issue, fighting to end the visa backlog for the sons and daughters of our veterans. We agree with her that the action of expediting reunification is long overdue and the right thing to do.”

Marites “Bing” Branigin, Capitol Region chair of NaFFAA, welcomed the news with mixed feelings. “My first reaction was happiness,” she said. “But I am also saddened remembering our veterans like Manong Emong Guillermo and Jack Tejada and community champions like Alex Esclamado, who walked the halls of Congress, fighting for recognition and family reunification. They are gone now but their legacy lives on.”


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