Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC Condemns Trump Administration for Intention to Terminate Filipino WWII Veterans Parole Program

Last-minute policy change would cruelly continue separation of families
For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced its intent to terminate the Filipino WWII Veterans Parole program and the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program by publishing a Federal Register notice on December 28, 2020. There will be a 60-day comment period and the termination of these programs would not become final unless the termination is finalized by the Biden administration.

Marita Etcubañez, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC issued the following statement:

“We condemn the Trump Administration’s last-minute effort to implement policy changes that will keep U.S. citizens separated from their family members. This action is cruel and heartless and yet unsurprising from an administration that has gone to great lengths to separate Black, Latino, Asian American, Arab, and Muslim families.

During World War II, approximately 250,000 Filipino soldiers fought alongside U.S. forces. Even though the Philippines was still occupied by the U.S. at the time we entered WWII, many of these soldiers were not able to become U.S. citizens following their military service. It was not until 1990, 45 years after the end of the war, that the U.S. finally passed legislation allowing Filipino WWII veterans to apply for U.S. citizenship. By this time, since most of the veterans’ children were no longer minors, their children were not eligible for derivative citizenship. The veterans had to apply for visas for their children and these applications were subject to the growing backlogs in family preference categories. Since Filipino nationals already faced some of the longest visa backlogs, there are family members of Filipino veterans that are still awaiting approval of their green card applications, 75 years after the end of World War II.

Advancing Justice | AAJC fought alongside the Filipino World War II veterans and many allies for the creation of the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole  Program in 2016. The program is a temporary administrative fix that allows these veterans to request parole for their children or siblings. Parole in this context means that the veterans’ family members are able to enter and live in the U.S. pending processing of their permanent resident applications. Many family members who received parole have not yet been able to obtain their green cards, and therefore, today’s announcement places them at risk of losing their status and being deported.

Our veterans have endured so much. Those who are still with us are very elderly and should not have to face the upheaval of being separated from their family members once again. We need a permanent legislative solution for these families that would make green cards immediately available for their family members. We call on President-elect Biden to continue the Filipino WWII Veterans Parole Program and the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program and to support passage of Representative Judy Chu’s Reuniting Families Act, which includes the bipartisan Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act."