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JFAV Greets Senate Vote Giving Veterans Special Immigrant Status as a Tactical Victory,

by Arturo P. Garcia Saturday, May. 20, 2006 at 8:15 PM 213-241-0906 1610 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

The Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) greet the news that the US Senate unanimously approved by a voice vote on Thursday (Friday in Manila) an amendment in the proposed immigration reform bill that would allow Philippine-based single or married children of Filipino World War II veterans to join them in the United States, as a tactical victory in its 60 years of struggle for recognition, justice and equity.

JFAV Greets Senate Vote Giving Veterans Special Immigrant Status as a Tactical Victory, Will Persevere More in Their Struggle For Recognition, Justice and Equity!

Los Angeles- The Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) greet the news that the US Senate unanimously approved by a voice vote on Thursday (Friday in Manila) an amendment in the proposed immigration reform bill that would allow Philippine-based single or married children of Filipino World War II veterans to join them in the United States, as a tactical victory in its 60 years of struggle for recognition, justice and equity.

Arturo P. Garcia, JFAV coordinator said: “This tactical victory will prod the veterans and advocates to work harder and persevere in their struggle for justice and equity. We got something with the high tide of our people’s movement for immigrant rights. This will inspire us to heighten our struggle and mobilize our community towards systemic change.

The Senate Amendment 4029 by Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D- Hawaii) seeks to grant

special immigrant status to the veterans' children and their minor (below age 21) grandchildren. It is now a part of S. 2611, the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act. Akaka said, "I have listened to the stories of countless Filipino World War II veterans who have been separated from their families and who are patiently waiting in line." He said being "surrounded by the love and care of family, especially for veterans in their twilight years," offers a special source of support.

Because of the high demand in the Philippines for immigrant visas to the US, the State Department is currently issuing visas for first preference family-sponsored immigrant visas whose priority date is September 1981. The average wait for Filipinos to obtain a visa is 20 years.

JFAV, a member organization of the Coalition in Defense of Immigrant Rights (CDIR) is well aware that the amendment still has to face two hurdles. It must be approved in the bill's version in the House of Representatives, and remain intact in the conference committee when both versions are reconciled.

Immigration reform advocate and Filipino veterans rights supporter Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) said, "We'll do everything we can to make sure this is carried to the conference as well." A source said the amendment has the support of Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania), the powerful chairman of the committee on judiciary affairs who

is a son of a veteran. The prevailing mood in the US to fast-track a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the 109th Congress by this month is helping speed up Filipino family reunification.

Arcadio Basat of the People’s CORE Veterans Desk based in Los Angeles expressed hope that he can bring his children and young grandchildren since 1993. Many of his children are in the Philippines. Candy Romulo, wife of veteran Bayani Romulo, 78, in the nearby state of Maryland was elated at the chance her four children could come here. "That would be good for their father, who has been in and out of the hospital lately, undergoing kidney dialysis."

About 11,000 veterans in the US, most of them in their 80s. Most of the veterans are in California, with about 4,000 of them living in the Los Angeles area. Akaka also said: "Let us prove wrong those who say that we are waiting until enough veterans die before we right this injustice. These veterans have been waiting for 60 years to have their benefits reinstated. Unfortunately, our efforts to provide them with the benefits they were promised, the benefits they fought for, have been unsuccessful because opponents have cited the payment of such benefits as too costly."

Nonservice-connected Filipino WWII veterans - those who did not sustain combat-related injury or ailment - in the US and the Philippines are still waiting to get a pension bill passed in the 109th US Congress. The amendment is co-sponsored by Senators Dan Inouye (D-Hawaii), who sponsored the Immigration Act of 1990 that allowed veterans to become US citizens, and Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, both Democrats from Washington state. Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii) introduced a similar bill, H.R. 901, in the House.

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