02192013_VETS FIGHT FOR FAMILY REUNIFICATION UNDER OBAMA'S IMMIGRATION PLAN

FILVETS TO LOBBY FOR REUNIFICATION IN IMMIGRATION OVERHAUL

Steve Angeles ABS-CBN North America Bureau

February 19, 2013

LOS ANGELES,–Ninety two-year-old Filipino World War II veteran Roger Dagdag has been waiting for over 20 years to bring his children and grandchildren to the US, but despite fighting for U.S. forces over 60 years ago during WWII, his petition continues to wait.

“Very frustrating. I’m already very old; just imagine that, more than 20 years to wait. My gosh,” said Dagdag.

As congress takes up immigration reform, the manongs are also trying to be included in the comprehensive immigration overhaul.

They are fighting for a family reunification provision, introduced by California congressman Mike Honda that would expedite petitions for Filipino WWII Veterans.”They should have been given the right to get their relatives to the United States because they are American veterans,” said Art Garcia of Justice for Filipino American Veterans.

As FilVets try to bring their families together, they recently hit another road bump in their efforts to grant pensions for their widows and survivors.

A U.S. appeals court rejected a lawsuit earlier this month that would ask the Department of Veterans Affairs to find other ways to verify the services of veterans who were denied their lump sum claims.

Advocates plan to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, while lawmakers reintroduce legislation in congress that would address pensions for veterans’ survivors.

It’s an issue that widows like Chit Sanchez says can mean life or death for them. “I’m hoping for survivors like me, I’m always ill, I’ve got the high blood pressure, arthritis, kailangan talaga,” she explained.

Contact Steve Angeles at steve_angeles@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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