August 15, 2019
On August 2, 2019, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced their plan to end the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole program based on an executive order pushed forward by Donald Trump.
Wilshire Community Coalition stands in solidarity with KmB / Pro-People Youth and the national alliance of Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) and demands the Trump administration maintain the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program, which was originally set to last until 2021.
This program temporarily allowed family members of Filipino World War II veterans, specifically those related to US citizens or green card holders, to remain in the US while waiting for approval of their immigrant visas. The list of family members awaiting approval was decades in the making, with many family members having not seen each other for just as long. Considering the fight for full equity spans across 73 years, this three-year-old parole program is disappointingly short-lived and has been unable to do much to correct the historical mistake of the Rescission Act of 1946.
During World War II, the Philippines was considered a US territory, similar to Puerto Rico and Guam today, and Filipinos were once US nationals. After 260,000 Filipinos served to defend the US, only 10,000 were given full equity. While the US granted the Philippines independence, the Rescission Act of 1946 exclusively denied 250,000 Filipinos their military benefits. Although there are recent victories, like the awarding of congressional gold medals in 2017, there remains a sense of cruelty and unfairness for the thousands who have died waiting on broken promises. For those still alive today, the termination of this parole program extends the list of US’s shortcomings against Filipinos in the US and the Philippines. It showcases how much the US devalues brown lives, commitment, and courage.
As a community organization, we are allies and long-standing advocates. WWII Filipino American veterans and survivors, like the people of Korea who lived under Japanese Imperialist rule–our grandparents and great-grandparents–are those who have suffered the heinous war crimes and atrocities that were committed by the Japanese Imperial Army. Survivors of heinous war crimes and atrocities that are still being denied by the current Japanese government that has still yet to be held accountable for. As 2020 looms, we will not allow another decade to pass without fighting. We will fight against racist laws and injustices that attempt to debilitate our community. As residents of Los Angeles, Wilshire Community Coalition stands against racism and xenophobia, as it is this same racism and xenophobia, that denies our veterans and their families full recognition.
In the words of the late Mang Peping Baclig, a founder of the JFAV movement, “Nothing is free. You have to fight for your rights. And when you have that right, you have to fight to keep it.”
Following the wise words of Mang Peping, we, all of us together, must carry the torch of the struggle and fight.
Wilshire Community Coalition