Recently, the Trump administration announced its intention to terminate a vital parole program for Filipino World War II veterans. The program was designed to promote the unification of families of United State citizens and lawful permanent residents by allowing certain family members to come to the United States before their priority date becomes current, provided an immediate relative petition has been filed on their behalf.
The Filipino World War II Veterans’ Parole Program honors Filipino-American veterans who fought for the U.S. alongside American service members. It allows these individuals – who are now U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents — to bring their foreign-born spouses and certain other family members to the United States. Many of the veterans are in their 90s and depend on paroled family members for essential care. This program therefore ensures that these World War II heroes enjoy the love and support of their families during their final years.
It’s important to note that the program does not authorize lawful permanent residence status or citizenship for the paroled individuals. The veteran must still petition for their permanent status. The program’s greatest benefit, therefore, is not for the family members, but the veterans themselves. After serving their country with honor, they are able to have their family close by, pending the lengthy process to legalize them.
What is the rationale for ending this program? USCIS claims that it wants a “better way to ensure that parole is used on a case by case basis, consistent with the law.” But USCIS is already administering the World War II program consistent with the law and on a case-by-case basis; every application undergoes adjudication on its own merits. On top of that, it appears that family members currently in the United States under this parole program would have to depart when their parole term expires, separating families once again. That makes no sense whatsoever. Why would you provide these World War II veterans with a support system for three years and then callously rip it away?
If we are truly committed to honoring these brave veterans, then we must do all that we can to ensure that they are supported and cared for. The existing program has served to reunite veterans with their family and provide peace of mind that their family is safe and close. This program is one way that we as a nation can demonstrate our respect and appreciation to individuals whose service and sacrifice were of profound importance to the freedoms we hold dear every day. The termination of this program is the latest brick in the Trump administration’s invisible wall. This time, it is being used to separate World War II veterans from their loved ones.