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Dec 04th
Home Sections Politics Children of Filipino Veterans Get Shot at New Immigration Reform Bill
Children of Filipino Veterans Get Shot at New Immigration Reform Bill PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Politics
Friday, 08 February 2013 17:15




(© 2013 Fil Am Extra Exchange)


C HICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – United States Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL-4th) believe the chances of the comprehensive immigration reform bill that would legalizes 11-million undocumented immigrants in passing in U.S. Congress is “fifty-fifty.” They are urging the American people to call their corresponding senators and district congressmen to support passage of a law that would “fix and change” the broken immigration system.


Mr. Durbin, the Assistant Majority Leader, the second highest-ranking position in the Senate, said, “A word of caution. We are facing very tough issues. We are trying to find a way to get this (comprehensive immigration reform) bill done. This is not a done deal. But we are trying to get this done in a matter of weeks. We have a better chance this time. And I give passage of this bill a fifty-fifty chance.”


At a press conference Monday (Feb. 4) at the Instituto del Progreso Latino in the South Side of Chicago, Congressman Gutierrez agreed with the difficulty of getting this immigration bill passed by the House of Representatives but he believes this bill is going to come thru. “On Nov. 6, this bill was what the American people voted for. The Democrats want this and the Republican need this. And Congress should pass this bill.”


Mr. Durbin said if this bill will not pass, it would be a “heartbreak for millions, who are living in this country, whose dreams are to give their children a better life. And it will not speak well for our political system that when we have a serious problem, we cannot fix it. It was 25 years ago that we had the last serious conversation about this problem.”


Rep. Gutierrez, who is a member of the House Committee on Judiciary as do Mr. Durbin in the Senate, said the new immigration bill would clear the backlog of those applicants for legal residency based on family preference, whose applicants are waiting in line for more than 20 years.




“W hen our process begins, we are not going to give preferences to 11 million undocumented immigrants. We will hasten family reunification. For a brother in the Philippines, a mother in Mexico and a wife in Ireland, we will speed up the process that they come in for as long as (No. 1), American workers and those born in this country get the first crack to a job in the U.S.; and (No. 2) Before any undocumented gets permanent residence, we must clear the backlog and we are not going to wait for 20 years and clear the backlog quicker.”


When asked by this reporter if they are willing to revive a previous proposal of retired Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) to include in the new comprehensive immigration bill the “grant of special immigration status to children of Filipino World War II veterans to promote family reunification,” both Senator Durbin and Rep. Gutierrez agreed.


In 2006, Senator Akaka introduced Amendment No. 4029 to the Senate Comprehensive bill, S. 2611, adding Sec. 509, that would amend Sec. 201(b)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act that that would allow children of Filipino World War II veterans to obtain lawful permanent resident status (green card) without waiting for visa availability of Family-Based First Preference (unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) or of Family-Based Third Preference (married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens). But S. 2611 died in the Senate.


Former Hawaii Congressman Ed Case similarly introduced a counterpart bill in the House of Representatives, H.R. 901, giving special immigrant status for children of Filipino World War II veterans for family reunification. But the proposal did not get off the ground.


Filipino-American Lawrence Benito, chief executive officer of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, who was also present at the press conference and meeting told this reporter, “On its (special immigrant status for Filipino veterans’ children’s) merits, this issue is a no brainer. I am going to talk to Sen. Durbin and Rep. Gutierrez to consider this proposal in the comprehensive immigration reform bill. Personally, this is something I would like to support, raising the issue of fairness for these families. A lot of things will be included in the immigration reform bill and I would hope this special immigrant status for Filipino veterans’ children would be one of them.”


Mr. Benito is also inviting everybody to attend the Illinois Immigrant Integration Summit, a citizenship workshops, at Malcolm X College at 1900 W. van Buren, in Chicago’s Westside on Saturday (Feb. 9) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. where he expects Illinois congressional and Illinois state assemblymen raise a platform of issues and invite them to help the federal government fix the broken immigration system by introducing common sense solution like grant of Illinois state driver’s license to undocumented immigrants.




S kokie, Illinois Commissioner Jerry B. Clarito, Executive Director of Chicago-based Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE), said. “As a son of a Filipino WWII veteran, I support (reporter) Joseph (Lariosa)'s request (to Press Secretary John Normoyle) for Senator Durbin to revive and incorporate the amendment of Senator Akaka (Amendment # 4029) to the 2006 Comprehensive Immigration Reform (SB261) i.e., "To grant the children of Filipino World War II veterans special immigrant status for purposes of family reunification" to the current proposed CIR.


“Senator Durbin is aware of a specific case of a Filipino WW II veteran's long wait to get his petitioned son join him in American. Unfortunately, the veteran in waiting died before his son's petition papers were processed," Clarito added.


“Senator Akaka's words captured not only the sorry affairs of Filipino immigration in general but most importantly the forgotten service of Filipino WW II veterans to the US war efforts when he said,  'It is no secret that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security is facing significant backlogs. However, it is not as widely known that prospective family-sponsored immigrants from the Philippines have the most substantial waiting times in the world before a visa is scheduled to become available to them. What this means, is that these honorable Filipino veterans, who faced numerous dangers to defend this Nation now face the prospect of spending the last years of their lives without the comfort and care of their families.'


"It is a shameful disgrace that the sons and daughters of these brave soldiers are now last in line to become citizens of our country. This is no way to honor Filipino soldiers who bravely fought on the front lines with American soldiers during World War II."


The press conference was preceded by a meeting of Senator Durbin and Rep. Gutierrez with leaders of community groups from the business, labor, education and faith to discuss the comprehensive immigration reform framework Mr. Durbin and seven other Senators unveiled last week.


The author of the DREAM Act, Mr. Durbin listened to feedbacks from immigration reform advocates and answered questions on the bipartisan statement of principles he developed over the course of the last several months with Senators from both parties.


“The debate over comprehensive immigration reform began in Washington last week when seven colleagues and I introduced a statement of principles we crafted as the starting point for legislation,” Durbin said. “These principles will guide the drafting of a bill, which we hope will then be taken up for consideration by the Judiciary Committee.”


O nce immigration legislation is drafted, it will move to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearing and debate. When the legislation is reported out of committee, it will, then, move to the Senate floor for debate and a vote. Should it pass, the bill would then move to the House of Representatives for consideration. It will await the signature of President Barack Obama, who is urging Congress to pass the bill as soon as possible.


Among those who attended the meeting were Alderman Danny Solis (25th), Juan Salgado of Instituto del Progreso, Tuyet Le of Asian American Institute, Alie Kabba, president the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Maria Pesqueira of Mujeres Latinas en Accion, Billy Lawless, Celts for Immigration Reform, Ahmed Rehab of Council on American-Islamic Relations, Omar Duque of Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Sylvia Puente of Latino Policy Forum, Sam Toia of Illinois Restaurant Association, Jane Raymundo of Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Elena Segura of Archdiocese of Chicago, and Maria Gonzalez, a DREAM Act student. # # #


Watch out for the upcoming media-outlet oriented, subscription-based website of Journal Group Link International that guarantees originally sourced stories, features, photos, audios and videos and multi-media contents.)


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Last Updated on Friday, 08 February 2013 22:52

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