FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Person: Luisa M. Antonio
San Francisco CA- The announcement to end prematurely a 5 year parole program for our Filipino veterans came as a shock to many immigrant families in our community. Filipino WWII Veterans have always been victims of inequitable government policies ranging from delayed recognition of their sacrifices and courage during the war to the delays in the family petitions resulting in lengthy separation from their families.
The FWVP program, since its inception, has allowed veterans and their widows to live with their families on parole status. After serving under the U.S. flag during World War II without recognizing their sacrifices and granting them their benefits, the elderly veterans sought to have family unity during their twilight years. Through the FWVP, sons and daughters of veterans were able to provide the much needed care for their aging parents.
Almost 3 years from the date of its implementation in 2016, several hundreds of veterans families were able to join their aging parents in the US while waiting for their visa preference petitions to become available. This categorical parole was established because of the peculiar and historical humanitarian situation of the Filipino World War II veterans.
Veteran Regino Nacua, now a 91 year old veteran, was able to file a parole visa for his son. Considering his age, he now needs his son to stay by his side more than ever. “I am grateful for the U.S. government for granting my son the opportunity to be with me. If it were not for the FWVP, I might not even see him anymore before I passed away.” If the FWVP is terminated, many of these parolees will be compelled to leave their aging veteran parents to wait for their petitions abroad. This will again result in lengthy waiting period and since the veterans are already old, they share the same sentiment as Mr. Nacua that they might not be able to have the opportunity to be with their children before they go.
Attorney Lou Tancinco, President of the Board of the Bayanihan Equity Center or the BEC (fka as the Veterans Equity Center) expresses her serious concerns about this impending termination of the FWVP program, “This development is a cruel and shameless attack on our Filipino veterans who courageously fought under the American flag during World War II. First, it was the delay in recognition and now a threat to end their parole program. This FWVP is the least possible way we can honor them, how else are we expected to uphold the dignity of our veterans, if they cannot be with their families during their twilight years? This is nothing but a humanitarian situation and the FWVP program must be maintained until there is a last Filipino veteran alive who can avail of this program.”
The BEC and other local community organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area will join the national advocacy groups in Washington DC to advocate against the termination of the FWVP. BEC’s Executive Director, Luisa Antonio makes this call to action, “ I urge all concerned citizens to contact their elected officials and Congressional representatives to advocate against this inhumane termination of the FWVP program. Let’s support and give justice to our aging Filipino World War II veterans and work together to stop the Trump administration from eliminating a much needed program for out Filipino World War II veterans .”
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The Bayanihan Equity Center (BEC) (f.k.a. Veterans Equity Center) is a non-profit organization based in the S.F. Bay Area established on December 1, 1999. The original mission was to serve, honor and advocate for the Filipino World War II veterans and provided services to thousands of Filipino veterans. The organization observed a growing number of low-income, immigrant older adults accessing its services.To address the growing needs of the community and demand for services, coupled with the high mortality rate among its original consumers, the Veterans Equity Center expanded its mission and formally changed its name to Bayanihan Equity Center (BEC) in 2018.