Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in introducing the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act, a bipartisan and bicameral bill that would expedite the visa process for children of Filipino World War II veterans.
“It’s unacceptable that brave Filipino veterans who put their lives on the line in World War II have waited decades for their loved ones to get visas to see them. I’m proud to cosponsor legislation that fixes outdated visa policies and honors their service by ensuring they’re able to finally have their visa applications for their children and relatives reviewed and their families reunited.”
In addition to U.S. Senators Cortez Masto, Hirono and Murkowski, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) also cosponsored the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act.
Representatives Ed Case (D-Hawaii) and Don Young (R-Alaska) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Full text of the bill is available here.
More than 260,000 Filipino soldiers followed America’s call to fight under the American flag in World War II. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush granted U.S. citizenship to about 26,000 Filipino nationals in recognition of their service to the United States during World War II. However, the 1990 law did not confer citizenship or residency to the veterans’ children, who remained separated from their parents. Due to a visa backlog, Filipino applicants must wait more than two decades before their applications are considered.
In 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began implementation of the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole (FWVP) program to reunite veterans and their surviving spouses with adult children and certain other relatives. However, the program is limited and provides no guarantee that these veterans will reunite with their loved ones. Today, there are fewer than 6,000 Filipino World War II veterans residing in the United States who would be able to take advantage of the benefits bestowed by the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act.