Case: Immigration legislation should include Filipino reunification measure

Congressman Ed Case, 2nd District, Hawai‘i, has asked President Bush and Congressional leaders to include a measure he introduced to reunite families of elderly Filipino World War II veterans with their families in the United States in immigration legislation now under consideration in the Senate.

In letters that ask for support from Senate and House leaders and President Bush, Case says his bill, H.R. 901, “fulfills one of the bedrock principles of our federal immigration policy — family reunification — and warrants special consideration given the unique history between the United States and the Philippines, as well as the contributions of our Filipino World War II veterans to our country and to U.S. national security interests,” states a press release from Case’s office.

Case, who first introduced the measure in the prior 108th Congress, reintroduced the bill last year to help the dwindling numbers of Filipino veterans who had fought alongside U.S. troops in the Philippines during World War II. In 1990, the U.S. provided these veterans with long-overdue and long-promised waivers from certain naturalization requirements, and many became citizens and residents of the United States. But their children did not receive the same privilege and had to remain in the Philippines, states the release.

“We need to fulfill completely our commitment to these veterans, many of whom are in their 80s and 90s, by allowing their sons and daughters to go through the process we established in 1990 to have priority in their respective immigration categories,” saidCase in the release.

He states the bill was especially timely as the veterans are passing away and those still alive need family help in their senior years.

“This measure is especially timely because Filipino-Americans across the country are marking a milestone this year by celebrating the centennial of sustained immigration from the Philippines. As one of the fastest growing immigrant populations in the country, Filipino Americans have contributed greatly to our country-just as the brethren of Filipino veterans did in World War II,” Case said in the release.

In his letter to congressional leaders and the President, Case asks for support to include his bill “in any comprehensive immigration reform measure” or to give his bill “expedited consideration as a stand-alone measure.”

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service estimates that 3,200 Filipino veterans secured citizenship since 1990, but Filipino community and veterans groups in the United States believe that number to be higher.

In addition to the issue of citizenship, Case, a member of the U.S.-Philippines Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and others in Congress continue to work for full military benefits for the Filipino veterans. The veterans were promised in 1946 — but never given — full veterans’ benefits, although the 108th Congress approved a partial measure giving benefits.

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