AAJC to Obama: Grant citizenship to children of Filipino veterans

Filipino veterans need their children to be with them in their advancing years, says AAJC

Filipino veterans need their children to be with them in their advancing years, says AAJC

new report released today by Advancing Justice | AAJC demands that President Barack Obama use his executive authority to allow children of Filipino World War II veterans to immediately be permitted to live and work in the United States.

For their brave service, President Franklin D. Roosevelt promised these veterans citizenship and veterans’ benefits, but the U.S. didn’t actually grant them citizenship until nearly 50 years later, in 1990, said AAJC in a statement. “Now, these veterans are still waiting 20-plus more years for their children to join them in the U.S. from the Philippines.”

“It’s now been 70 years, and the U.S. still has not fulfilled its promise to our Filipino War World II veterans,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. “Had our government delivered on time in 1945, these veterans could have brought their children with them and lived full and complete lives in the United States. Now, our vets are in their 80s and 90s, and their children are living on another continent, unable to help care for their parents in their golden years.”

As part of the November 2014 executive actions, President Obama issued a presidential memorandum creating an interagency task force charged with recommending areas for improvement in the legal immigration system, including alleviating the family visa backlog.

U.S. citizens can sponsor certain loved ones in other countries to receive visas, but because of a long backlog, it can take decades before they can make it to the United States and be together again as a family. Only 226,000 family-sponsored visas are available each year. The U.S. government puts limits on visas so that each country can only receive 7 percent of the available visas. The visa backlog is particularly long from Asian countries because the demand for visas is so high.

Nearly one-third, or 1.6 million of the 4.2 million people waiting for family-sponsored visas are from Asian countries, namely the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and Vietnam.

On January 29, 2015, Advancing Justice | AAJC, submitted detailed recommendations on the many ways that the Obama Administration can modernize the legal immigration system to streamline and improve the processing of certain visas.

“Our recommendations included many suggestions, among them, granting parole for the children of Filipino World War II veterans,” it said.

The president’s task force was supposed to issue recommendations by March 21, 120 days after Obama’s announcement, but no recommendations have been made.

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