Filipino WWII Veterans: Family Reunification on the Horizon
October 9, 2015
On October 2, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) formally announced the upcoming implementation of a parole program that will help reunite certain family members of Filipino WWII Veterans. Given the great sacrifices that Filipino WWII Veterans have endured, the program is significant in assisting them and their families deal with the hardships that separation from loved ones causes.
The parole program was first mentioned in November 2014 as part of President Obama’s Executive Actions on immigration. In July 2015, the White House issued a report entitled “Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century,” which reiterated the President’s desire to implement a parole program for Filipino WWII Veterans. The report recognizes the “ultimate sacrifice” of the approximately 260,000 Filipinos who were “soldiers in the U.S. Armed Forces in the Far East and as guerilla fighters during the Imperial Japanese occupation of the Philippines.”
It is estimated that approximately 26,000 Filipino soldiers were eventually granted US citizenship. Because the struggle for US citizenship took so long, though, many Filipino WWII Veterans who relocated to the US were faced with the hardship of being separated from their children. As US citizens, Filipino WWII Veterans are able to file visa petitions for their children. However, children who are over age 21 are left behind waiting several years to obtain their visa and be reunited with their parent. For those who are single, the wait is about 14 years. Children who are married are subjected to an even longer wait of about 22 years.
The report states that there are “approximately 6,000 Filipino American World War II Veterans still alive in the United States today, many of whom require the care and assistance of their families and greatly desire to have their family members in the United States during their final days.” To accomplish this, the DHS is now actively in the process of implementing the parole program.
The program will allow certain family members, such as the children of these Veterans, to expeditiously obtain a temporary visa known as parole so that they can “provide support and care to their Filipino veteran family members who are U.S. citizens or LPRs.” Similar reunification programs have been implemented in the past, such as the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program and Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program.
The DHS is now putting together the application requirements and process. It will announce the implementation of the parole program one it has been finalized. Applications can only be filed at that time.
The parole program is a significant recognition by the US government of the great contributions that Filipino WWII Veterans and their families have provided. Although this benefit is long overdue, the nearing implementation of the program is greatly heralded so that the Filipino WWII Veterans can finally be together with their loved ones once again.
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