By Debbie Gregory.
The Department of Homeland Security recently announced a new program to help Filipino-American World War II veterans bring their family members to the US.
Working with the State Department, the program will allow certain family members to come into the US under a parole status. The standard family immigration process has been extremely backlogged, and many veterans have been waiting upwards of 20 years for their family members to obtain visas. This policy is an effort to help expedite the legal immigration process to help those Filipino-American veterans reunite with their relatives; many being elderly and needing the assistance of family.
Last month, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum on “Modernizing and Streamlining the U.S. Immigrant Visa System for the 21st Century.” In this memorandum, the President directed the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security to lead an interagency effort to develop recommendations, in consultation with stakeholders and experts, to:
- reduce government costs, improve services for applicants, reduce burdens on employers, and combat waste, fraud, and abuse in the system;
- ensure that policies, practices, and systems use all of the visa numbers that Congress provides for and intends to be used, consistent with demand; and
- modernize the information technology infrastructure underlying the visa processing system with the goal of reducing redundant systems, improving the experience of applicants, and enabling better oversight.
The legal immigration system has not had any significant changes since 1991. The recent policy includes plans to revamp the process for people to apply for visas. Still, the process will take time to implement, and the parole system for Filipino-Americans’ relatives will expedite their immigration process.
“These are World War II veterans, so you can just think about how old they are and how long they’ve waited,” said Erin Oshiro, director of the Immigrant Rights Program at Advancing Justice.
An estimated 260,000 Filipino soldiers fought for the United States during World War II. It was not until the 1990s that they were granted eligibility to become citizens. The White House estimates that 6,000 are still living and reside in the US.
“For many years, I’ve fought to end the visa backlog for the sons and daughters of Filipino World War II veterans,” claimed Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). “We made a promise to these individuals, and expediting reunification with their children through parole brings us one significant step closer in fulfilling that promise.”
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Reuniting Filipino World War II Veterans With Family: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory