Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 20, 2006

Filipino vets deserve to be made whole

When the Senate votes on its version of immigration reform, Hawai'i's large Filipino community will have a built-in rooting interest: the 50,000 surviving Filipino veterans of World War II.

The veterans aren't being given the millions of dollars in benefits that have been unfairly denied them by Congress for years.

But they might get something else: a chance to reunite with their distant families.

The Senate voted unanimously to grant the veterans' children who are still in the Philippines a chance to jump the long line and join them here in the U.S.

Filipinos who apply for entry visas typically have had to wait as long as 20 years.

Sen. Daniel Akaka introduced the amendment. Rep. Ed Case had already introduced a similar amendment to the House bill. With a strong Filipino community based in Hawai'i, their advocacy makes perfect sense.

But it still doesn't quite match up to what is truly owed the veterans who have for years sought full Veterans Administration benefits equal to other vets, an amount that totals $22 million annually.

That figure goes down each year passage is delayed. An estimated eight veterans die each day Congress fails to provide veterans equity.

That's why family unification is a nice gesture, but it's no replacement for what would really make Filipino World War II veterans whole.