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Senate OKs Cantwell-Backed Measure to Make Children of Filipino WWII Vets Immediately Eligible for Visas

Legislation included in pending immigration bill would help reunite families and remove vets’ children from waiting lists

Monday, May 22,2006


WASHINGTON, DC – Monday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) commended the Senate’s unanimous approval of legislation to promote family reunification and to honor the sacrifice of Filipino World War II veterans by making their adult children immediately eligible for immigrant visas. The legislation was introduced by Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and co-sponsored by Senators Cantwell, Patty Murray (D-WA), and Daniel Inouye (D-HI).

“Our Filipino veterans have made tremendous sacrifices in our nation’s defense so that later generations could thrive in freedom and prosperity,” said Cantwell. “Their own children deserve access to that same American dream, and they deserve to be reunited with their children. As a nation, we have a distinct and important responsibility to make sure service members, veterans, and their families receive the benefits, the care, and the recognition they have earned and so greatly deserve.”

According to the State Department, the backlog in processing visa requests from the Philippines stretches back nearly two decades. Most WWII Filipino veterans are currently in their 80s. Today, of the 200,000 who served, there are 49,000 surviving WWII Filipino veterans. Two thousand live in Washington state. The amendment approved late last week effectively expedites the family-sponsored immigrant visa for adult children of Filipino WWII vets who wish to be reunited with their parents but who cannot yet obtain visas due to visa caps.

Cantwell has also cosponsored the Filipino Veterans Equity Act, which would deem certain service performed before July 1, 1946 in the organized military forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Scouts as active military service for the purposes of eligibility for veterans’ benefits.