WASHINGTON — The Trump administration will end a three-year-old program that allowed family members of Filipino World War II veterans to stay in the U.S. while waiting for their green cards to be approved, a process that can take decades.
On Friday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced it would terminate the Haitian Family Reunification Parole program and Filipino World War II Veterans Parole program based on an executive order from President Donald Trump.
In a press release, USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli explained that the decision was based on a fairness.
“Under these categorical parole programs, individuals have been able to skip the line and bypass the proper channels established by Congress,” Cuccinelli said.
“With the termination of these programs, these individuals will no longer be permitted to wait in the United States for their family-based green card to become available, consistent with the rules that apply to the rest of the world.”
Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, who has been one of the leading advocates for reunifying Filipino veterans with their families, issued a stern statement Friday attacking the administration’s decision to end the parole program.
An estimated 250,000 Filipino soldiers fought for the U.S. in World War II.
Many of those veterans were granted citizenship and in 2016 — under then-President Barack Obama — they were allowed to bring family members to the U.S. and keep them here while they waited for their own green cards to be processed.
Hirono said the USCIS’s decision was just the latest in Trump’s “pathological need to treat immigrants as cruelly as possible, and to undo any program ever created by Barack Obama.”
In 2017, Hirono and others urged Trump not to end the program, noting that many Filipino veterans were in their 80s and 90s and in need of family to help care for them.
On Friday, she noted that in some cases it could take up to 20 years for someone to get their green card, meaning many veterans would die before having the opportunity to be reunited with their family members.
“The depths of Donald Trump’s inhumanity where immigrants are concerned knows no bottom, but not even the most loyal of his supporters can be in favor of disrespecting the brave and distinguished service of veterans who fought alongside Americans and helped us win the war,” Hirono said.
“There is no purpose to keeping the families of the quickly diminishing number of Filipino World War II veterans separated,” she added.
“They have been ignored and disrespected by this country for decades. They deserve our thanks, not spite from their unhinged president.”
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