'Forever indebted' no more: Trump administration will end Filipino veterans program
The Trump administration’s racism and cowardice knows no bounds as it continues forward in its intentions to end the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program (FWVP). The program, begun during the Obama administration attempted to help reunite Filipino veterans and their families in the United States while awaiting official federal decisions on their visas. The idea of the program is to allow elderly veterans the chance to have family members help support them in the states. It’s a decent and humane program, giving the very least back to people who sacrificed so much for the rest of us.
When the decision to end support of the FWVP first became news, Democratic Senator Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii released this statement:
To serve his pathological need to treat immigrants as cruelly as possible, and to undo any program ever created by Barack Obama, Donald Trump is dishonoring Filipino World War II veterans by ending the program that allows them to reunite their families in the United States. The President’s decision means many of these veterans in their 90s will likely die without seeing their families again.
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. There is no purpose to keeping the families of the quickly diminishing number of Filipino World War II veterans separated. They have been ignored and disrespected by this country for decades. They deserve our thanks, not spite from their unhinged president.
For decades, Filipino veterans and their families have tried to get the full recognition they deserve for their service and sacrifice during the World War II. This includes battles to receive the full benefits and pensions afforded to military veterans and their families in the states.
More than a quarter million Filipino soldiers enlisted to serve in the U.S. army during World War II and a little less than 30,000 were allowed to move to the United States and become citizens. Many of those soldiers left family behind during that time. Reunions between soldiers in the U.S. and their families back in the Philippines would frequently take many years.
The Philippines was attacked by Japan only 10 hours after the infamous Pearl Harbor bombing, Japan occupying Manila. It became the location of an American and Filipino resistance that lasted for months and the tragic stage for the Bataan Death March of 60,000-100,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war, leading to death of thousands and decried as a war crime. Japan occupied the Philippines for the entirety of the war, and the Philippines suffered almost 60,000 casualties during that time.
Retired U.S. general and chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project Tony Taguba writes that people like his father, who served the United States during the Second World War, received American citizenship because they earned it, not as a gift. “Being granted American citizenship for completing their mission is not an entitlement or benefit. Soldiers were willing to die for our country, to suffer the brutality and ravages of war, and many lost their homes and livelihood.”
This kind of service and sacrifice is something conservatives like Trump and the current Republican leadership have never understood. In their world, there are winners and losers, and 99% of us are not what they consider winners.