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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 19, 2006

Proposal to help reunite Filipino families

Associated Press

The U.S. Senate approved a proposal yesterday that would help children of Filipino World War II veterans immigrate to the United States.

The proposal, introduced by Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i, as an amendment to the Senate's immigration reform bill, was approved unanimously.

The amendment would reunify families that are separated because of a backlog in visa applications to the State Department, Akaka said.

Family-sponsored immigrants from the Philippines have the longest wait times in the world before visas are scheduled to become available to them. The average wait for Filipinos to receive a visa is 20 years.

"The Filipino veterans from World War II have already made extreme sacrifices. They should not be forced to endure the further sacrifice of life without their loved ones," Akaka said in a Senate speech.

About 200,000 Filipinos served in World War II, and about 49,000 of them are still living. That number is expected to shrink to 20,000 by 2010.

"This will help provide some very important family reunification. It's entirely warranted and justified," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

The amendment will be part of an immigration reform package, which is expected to come to a vote next week.