Hirono, Senate Dems urge return of WWII Filvets parole program
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and 13 Senate Democrats wrote to Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, urging him to rescind the Trump Administration’s decision to terminate the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program (FWVP).
“Over the past two years, the Trump administration has repeatedly attacked immigrants, and once again, its anti-immigrant disposition is reflected in this harmful and unnecessary action to end a program that helps elderly World War II veterans—who are now in their late 80s and 90s—reunite with their children and siblings. By abruptly and cruelly terminating this program nearly two years early, you are breaking yet another promise to Filipino World War II veterans and denying them the relief they deserve for their service to our country. We strongly urge you to reverse your decision to keep these veterans separated from their families by ending the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program,” the senators wrote.
Filipino veterans were granted citizenship in recognition of their service to the United States 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 United States 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.
In July, 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 United States. Hirono has introduced the bipartisan legislation in the 113th, 114th, and 115th Congresses and successfully added it as an amendment to the Senate’s 2013 bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, S. 744, which passed the Senate.
Joining Hirono on the letter to Acting Director Cuccinelli are U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif).