WASHINGTON D.C. (HawaiiNewsNow) - A bill introduced by Sen. Mazie Hirono and co-sponsored by Sen. Brian Schatz would make it easier for children of Filipino World War II veterans to get visas.
"Time is running out for the diminishing number of Filipino World War II veterans who fought and sacrificed alongside American servicemen," Hirono said in a statement. "We as a nation made a promise to these veterans that must be kept."
More than 260,000 of these veterans were offered U.S. citizenship for their service, but the benefit did not extend to their children, separating thousands of families for decades. Now, veterans must file for a family visa, but it can take more than 20 years for these applications to be reviewed.
Hirono and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., introduced the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act on Friday, in hopes of expediting the visa process for these children. It's all part of a larger effort to pass permanent comprehensive immigration reform, Hirono said.
"As an immigrant who came to the United States with my mother at a young age, I remain committed to the fact that any effort to reform our immigration system should also address the challenges families face," she said.
Of the surviving Filipino World War II veterans, less than 6,000 are U.S. citizens.