Filipino vets worry immigration reform may hurt reunification

Posted at 04/15/13 6:10 PM

LOS ANGELES – John Aspiras fought in World War II, though he was denied pension equal to US soldiers, and his claim for a lump sum payment was denied, he was eventually given a US citizenship in 1990. He’s now fighting another battle, waiting for ten years petition his 51-year-old daughter from the Philippines.

“It’s a really long wait. Sometimes you get discouraged like I don’t think it’s going to be approved and there’s so many things they need. Sometimes it’s too much,” said the 85-year-old Aspiras.

As Filipino veterans celebrated Bataan day festivities throughout the week, they also hoped for the best in a Filipino World War Two Veteran family reunification bill that would expedite their petitions for their adult married children.

The legislation was introduced earlier this year after a similar bill was included in the 2007 immigration reform overhaul that failed to pass. There’s also talk that the bill is making its way as part of the immigration reform package.

“There is an advantage of being a stand alone because if anything goes against the immigration bill, it will pass because its standalone. But the problem if it is a stand-alone it will have more difficulty passing but if it is included in the immigration bill as an insertion or an addition it is better,” explained Art Garcia from the Justice for Filipino American Veterans campaign.

However there is concern as the buzz around Capitol Hill is that family petitions may be eliminated as part of the immigration reform package. With the two potential proposals conflicting with each other, veterans and advocates worry if the veterans will even have a chance to petition their children.

“The problem, they want to get rid of family reunification, they want to get rid of petitioning immediate relatives but they are open to skilled and no skilled workers which anti to a real immigration reform bill,” Garcia added.

Garcia says there’s no harm in having the Veterans Reunification Act as both a stand-alone legislation and part of an immigration overhaul. For vets like Aspiras, having two routes for the bill is just extra ammunition in their on-going battle.