UniPro Commends Citizenship Pathway for Families of Fil-Am WWII Veterans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Therese Franceazca Balagtas



Recommendation allows certain family members of veterans to seek parole

New York, NY, July 20, 2015 - The Obama Administration has announced an expedited pathway to citizenship for families of Filipino American war veterans. Through collaboration between the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department, this program allows family members of Filipino American war veterans to come to the United States under a case-by-case, parole process. This will alleviate the backlogged immigration process often due to caps on visas, which has caused wait times that can exceed more than 20 years.

“It’s refreshing to see our President acknowledging this issue among the many he’s been addressing as part of his legacy of change,” states Iris Zalun, UniPro President. “Despite decades of advocacy that Filipino Americans have invested in our veterans, this is a small step towards the full realization of the benefits and recognition they deserve.”

“While this announcement is long overdue for the Filipino American community, this is a tiny recompense for Filipino Americans who have served this country,” states Ryan Natividad, UniPro Director of Policy, Advocacy, and Research. “Many veterans have been denied benefits, and many have passed on without ever seeing what was ‘promised’ to them. The government needs to be held accountable for its inactions.”

During World War II, more than 260,000 Filipinos enlisted in the United States military. During the war, the Philippines was a Commonwealth of the United States. However, the Rescission Act of 1946, denied the Filipino American war veterans of their benefits. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 contained a provision creating the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund. While 43,000 claims were filed, only 18,900 were eligible.

In 1942, Congress passed a law naturalizing aliens serving in the United States military. However, after the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese occupation, the naturalization law expired at the end of 1946. The Immigration Act of 1990, after 45 years, restored citizenship to Filipino American veterans.

UniPro continues to advocate for the needs and well-being of all Filipino Americans, including the Filipino American veterans who have sacrificed greatly to fight for this country. We urge President Obama and Congress to provide our aging Filipino Americans veterans the rights and privileges afforded to them and to overhaul this broken immigration system.

About Pilipino American Unity for Progress, Inc. (UniPro) Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro) is a New York City-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that envisions a unified and engaged Pilipino America. Founded in 2009, UniPro’s mission is to engage Pilipino Americans through collaboration, advocacy and education. It seeks to transform Pilipino students & young professionals into community leaders through its various programs, which incorporate professional development, history, and policy through the lens of the Pilipino experience. The organization allows Pilipino Americans the opportunity to explore their place in the community in the hope of owning their niche. Ultimately, UniPro asks Pilipino Americans to critically answer, “How do you define Progress?”

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This article was written by Ryan Natividad.

Taking the Oath: Filipino-American Dual Citizenship


1903019_635542549888381_57204853896404197_nThis past Saturday at the Consulate General of the Philippines in Chicago, eleven Filipino-Americans took the step of making that label official by taking an oath to become full-fledged dual Filipino and American citizens. After being sworn in by Deputy Consul General Romulo Victor M. Israel Jr., the new citizens were welcomed with plates of food (naturally) while some went one room over to claim their official Philippine passports.

It was a special ceremony held in October specifically in accordance with Filipino-American History Month, but according to Filipino American Young Leaders Program (FYLPro) delegate Louella Cabalona, it’s a “weekly service of the Philippine consulate”. Cabalona; along with Julien Baburka, Abbey Eusebio and Jan Paul Ferrer; make up the Chicago delegates of FYLPro, a program established by the Philippine ambassador to get young Filipino-Americans more interested in the affairs of the Philippine government. “Our association with the consulate is a byproduct of our ambassador’s vision, for us delegates,” says Cabalona.

While the dual citizenship service is readily available, extra effort was put into this special swearing in ceremony. As preparations began, a survey was sent out to gauge interest in the process (which can still be taken here). Then, starting in late September, there were two sessions held where curious applicants could get more information and get their questions answered.

Predictably, there are concerns about the drawbacks of becoming a dual-citizen, the most common being about taxes. “I’m not a tax expert,” starts Cabalona, “[but] by the virtue of being Filipino alone will not require you to pay tax to the Philippines”. Of course, there are advantages too. New dual citizen Cheerbelle Guerrero noted that she took the oath because she’s “a Filipino by heart, [and it’s a] good opportunity to show [her] love for the Philippines”. The ability to stay in the Philippines past thirty days without a visa was also a pretty good driving factor. A comprehensive list of the requirements for dual-citizenship, advantages and drawbacks can be found here.

Many Filipino-Americans sworn in saw the value in being able to stay longer in their other home country, or even go to school there or influence high level government via absentee voting. For Cabalona though, the key reason for becoming a dual citizen is much simpler, but comes from a more cosmopolitan point of view. “If you are eligible in becoming a citizen of a country, you should claim our right to be so.” Hopefully this swearing in ceremony will lead to a snowball effect of more people seeking out information, getting their questions answered, and claiming the citizenship that is rightfully theirs.

Post by Ryne Dionisio

meRyne is a proud Filipino/gamer/geek from the streets of Chicago. His skills include proficiency in HTML, CSS, social networking, Street Fighting, and photographing/critiquing food. He is currently using his powers for good, developing websites for IBM and contributing articles to He is also the host and producer of BakitCast, the official podcast of BakitWhy.

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