LOS ANGELES (July 16, 2015) — Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) commends the Obama Administration on the decision to allow the reunification of aging Filipino World War II veterans and their children. Family members will be allowed to live and work in the United States. The decision was announced yesterday in a report from the Visa Modernization Task Force, a federal interagency group created as part of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
“Similar to the bill passed by Congress in 2009 awarding Filipino American veterans of World War II partial payment of their veteran benefits, yesterday’s decision by the White House is long-overdue,” says Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of Advancing Justice-LA. “The fight for Filipino veteran justice has been the continual recognition of the courage and sacrifice of Filipinos who fought under U.S. command in World War II.” According to the Los Angeles Times, over 400,000 Filipino soldiers fought alongside U.S. troops in the Pacific during World War II. Less than 15,000 of these soldiers are thought to be still alive.
Advancing Justice-LA has long championed the rights of Filipino American war veterans. In the 1980s, Advancing Justice-LA advocated for U.S. citizenship for Filipino veterans who had been denied this promise made in recruiting them to fight for the United States. In the 1990s, Advancing Justice-LA tried to expose the legal discrimination in the Rescission Act of 1946 that rescinded the benefits promised to Filipino veterans by General Douglas MacArthur. Former Advancing Justice-LA staff member Tony Dorońo was also one of the first to convene a local conference to raise awareness that hundreds of thousands of World War II Filipino veterans were not getting the same military benefits awarded to their American counterparts. In 2004, Advancing Justice-LA helped mobilize Filipino American veterans and advocacy groups in a successful campaign urging state legislators to oppose a proposal to end state-funded benefits for elderly Filipino veterans.
Last month, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC (Advancing Justice – AAJC), our affiliate based in Washington, D.C., issued a report calling on President Obama to grant parole for children of Filipino War World II veterans.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles is the nation’s largest Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) legal and civil rights organization and serves more than 15,000 individuals and organizations every year. Founded in 1983 as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Advancing Justice – LA’s mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society. Through direct legal services, impact litigation, policy analysis and advocacy, leadership development and capacity building, Advancing Justice – LA seeks to serve the most vulnerable members of the AANHPI community while also building a strong AANHPI voice for civil rights and social justice.