Vet's family reunites under new program after decades apart - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Vet's family reunites under new program after decades apart

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

When Jesus Milla was able to move from the Philippines to Hawaii more than two decades ago, one of the first things he did was to start the process of bringing the rest of his family.

The World War II Philippine Army veteran died in July 2006, still waiting for that reunion to happen.

The situation looked hopeless -- until last June, when the U.S. began taking applications to allow eligible family members to come to the United States while they waited for their immigrant visas to be approved.

Jeorge Milla, his wife and two teenage daughters arrived in Hawaii on Feb. 1, much to the happiness of his 93 year-old mother, Anastacia.

"We were always hoping that my family were going here," Jeorge Milla said of the long wait.

Jesus Milla was one of some 250,000 Filipinos who fought shoulder-to-shoulder with American troops.

He, Anastacia and an older son, Gaspar, moved to Hawaii in 1994. He then petitioned in 1995 to bring other family members to the United States.

Gaspar Milla had the documents that helped his brother's family get to Hawaii under the new rules.

"When my father passed away, the petition died already, together with my father," said Gaspar Milla, who is now a U.S. citizen and worked with the Coast Guard.

But several other veterans are still waiting.

"I feel like there are a lot of people out there who have not applied yet," said immigration attorney Maile Hirota, who assisted the Milla family. "And it's just a matter of identifying those people and getting the right information to them."

The Obama Administration launched the five-year program, and U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, who has spearheaded causes for the Filipino veterans, hopes the new president will keep it going.

"These families need to be reunited," she said. "I think that our country owes them that, and I hope that President Trump does not do anything to this particular program."

As for the Milla family, they're glad to be close to one another after the 22-year wait.

"We are so happy. That's a happy ending," said Gaspar Milla.

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