FILIPINO VETS HOPEFUL DESPITE EXCLUSION FROM IMMIGRATION REFORM BILL

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Apr 22, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO – Filipino World War II veterans are again coping with disappointment, following the exclusion of the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act, from the immigration reform bill.

The provision would have fast-tracked the visa applications of their family members who wish to join them in the United States.

Regalado Baldonado, 86, has been waiting to see his three children and their spouses, whom he petitioned in the 1990’s. If he dies, the petition dies with him.

“They’re my loved-ones and I would like to have them here with me, while I’m still alive,” Baldonado pointed out.

Beatrice Ballais, 83, is a widow of a Filipino veteran. Her son could not care for her in her old age because he was left behind in the Philippines when his immigration petition died with his father.

“I am so sad. I’m by myself now,” she lamented.

Advocates like Ago Pedalizo of the Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) however said they should not lose faith. He said he expected the U.S. Senate not to include the Filipino veterans in the bill, because their issue is “very specific to the needs of a certain community.”

But there’s hope, he said, because the Filipino Veterans Reunification Act was just introduced as a stand-alone bill by U.S. Representative Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.

Pedalizo believes this has a better chance of passing in Congress.

“The premise for this is that these Filipino veterans served the U.S. and were given U.S. citizenship. We have to recognize them as American veterans and American citizens. So they have the right to be with their families in this country,” he said.

The Filipino Veterans Reunification Act would exempt the veterans’ children, about 20,000 of them, from visa quotas. About 6,000 surviving Filipino veterans who are U.S. citizens, can take advantage of this bill.

You may contact Henni Espinosa at henni_espinosa@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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  • noz
    22 April 2013 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    therefore, the bill must survive the house/senate for these veteran’s families to be granted visas. for the bill to get the votes of the house majority, the bill sponsor must campaign within the representatives. if this bill will be heard in the floor, again the bill sponsor must bring in good convincing speech/debate. the first hurdle of the bill is to get the house members majority allowing the bill to be presented for hearing, without the house majority, the bill will be dead on arrival. the second hurdle for this bill will be the senate majority votes to become a law or the senate will filibuster the bill passed by the house, same way like dead on arrival. the DC politics are all about mobilizations in the grandest numbers of interest groups, from diverse ethnic communities lobbying/fighting for the specific cause, putting hard pressures on these politicians with strong messages of getting unseated in power, by voting them out on their reelection bids.

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