WASHINGTON – Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) issued the following statement after the Trump Administration announced it was terminating the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program (FWVP):
“To serve his pathological need to treat immigrants as cruelly as possible, and to undo any program ever created by Barack Obama, Donald Trump is dishonoring Filipino World War II veterans by ending the program that allows them to reunite their families in the United States. The president’s decision means many of these veterans in their 90s will likely die without seeing their families again.
“The depths of Donald Trump’s inhumanity where immigrants are concerned knows no bottom, but not even the most loyal of his supporters can be in favor of disrespecting the brave and distinguished service of veterans who fought alongside Americans and helped us win the war. There is no purpose to keeping the families of the quickly diminishing number of Filipino World War II veterans separated.
“They have been ignored and disrespected by this country for decades. They deserve our thanks, not spite from their unhinged president.”
Filipino veterans were granted citizenship in recognition of their service to the U.S. during World War II. Many of their children, however, were not. Due to the volume of immigrant visa applications from the Philippines, it can take more than 20 years for families to be reunited.
Under the FWVP program, the adult children of Filipino World War II veterans, along with their spouses and children under age 21, can finally be together in the U.S. while they await an available immigrant visa.
Hirono was instrumental in creating the program in 2016 and encouraged the Trump Administration to continue the program in an April 2017 letter.
Last month, Hirono met for a second time with the Milla family – the first family in Hawaii to benefit from the FWVP program in 2017. After waiting more than 20 years for an immigrant visa, the FWVP program enabled Jeorge Milla to be reunited with his mother in Hawaii while awaiting his visa.
Jeorge and his wife Juseline are now employed in Hawaii, their two daughters Jasmine and Jeraldine are attending college, and they have all earned their green cards.
In May, Hirono reintroduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to build on the FWVP program to reunite Filipino World War II veterans with their families in the U.S. Hirono has introduced the bipartisan legislation in the 113th, 114th, and 115th Congresses and offered it as an amendment to the Senate’s 2013 bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, S. 744, which passed the Senate.
Sen. Mazie Hirono and Maj. Gen. Tony Taguba and Hawaii attendees at Congressional Gold Medal ceremony for Filipino WWII veterans in 2017.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, which advocated for the Filipino WWII veterans parole program and assisted some of the veterans in obtaining parole, issues the following statement in response to this news:
“In a time where the Trump Administration often questions the patriotism of others, we question where is that patriotism now for our veterans? When America needed them, our Filipino World War II veterans fought and sacrificed much in World War II. Parole authority is provided when there is significant public benefit or an urgent humanitarian reason. The public benefit of our WWII Filipino veterans was met in their service to country nearly 80 years ago.
“Parole was granted to these war heroes in 2016 in recognition of the extraordinary contributions and sacrifices of Filipino veterans, who before this policy change had to wait decades to be reunited with their children. The urgent humanitarian basis for granting parole to our remaining veterans should be obvious: those still with us are very elderly and cannot continue to wait to be reunited with their family members.”
“Only two years ago Paul Ryan, former speaker of the House of Representatives, recognized these brave men and women with the Congressional Gold Medal. Advancing Justice | AAJC fought along with stalwart advocates such as Sen. Mazie Hirono and bipartisan supporters in Congress to pass the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act (Public Law 114-265) and award medals collectively to more than 260,000 Filipino and Filipino American soldiers. These soldiers answered President Roosevelt’s call-to-duty and fought under the American flag, sacrificing for their country.
“The Trump Administration must not dishonor our Filipino American heroes. We call upon the administration to reverse its decision to terminate the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole program.”