By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2017 Journal GlobaLinks)
CHICAGO (JGL) – In the waning days of World War II, American military officers drew a line on the sands, asking Filipino WW II veterans to step in a
line if they wanted to become American citizens.
Only about 4,000 of those survivors chose to become U.S. citizens while the rest of the 200,000, who did not know about the offer, or refused the offer, or because the U.S. Consul processing their citizenship application was recalled home to U.S. to stop the processing and never returned, did not become U.S. citizens.
The “mass de-naturalization” was formalized with the passage of the Rescission Act of 1946 (38 U.S.C. § 107), which retroactively annulled benefits that included payment to Filipino troops on account of their military service under the auspices of the United States during the time that the Philippines was a U.S. territory and Filipinos were U.S. nationals.
The law deemed it that their sacrifices during the war “not to have been active military, naval, or air service for the purposes of any law of the United States conferring rights, privileges, or benefits upon any person by reason of the service of such person or the service of any other person in the Armed Forces.”
Introduced by Rep. Walter Jones, Jr. [R-NC-3] last month as H.R. (House of Representatives) 887, the bill will let the next-of-kin of these deceased veterans decide if he wants his non-US citizen veteran relative become a U.S. citizen after his death. This bill will “amend the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to extend honorary citizenship to otherwise qualified noncitizens who enlisted in the Philippines and died while serving on active duty with the United States Armed Forces during certain periods of hostilities, and for other purposes.”
The bill says, in general, a request for the granting of posthumous citizenship to a person described in subsection (b) or non-U.C. citizens may be filed on behalf of that person (A) upon locating the next-of-kin, and if so requested by the next-of-kin, by the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary's designee with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security immediately upon the death of that person;
Or (B) by the next-of-kin. Or (2) if the Director of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services shall approve a request for posthumous citizenship filed by the next-of-kin in accordance with paragraph (1)(B) (non-US citizen) if (A) the request is filed not later than 2 years after (i) November 24, 2003;
Or (ii) the date of the person's death; whichever date is later (B) the request is accompanied by a duly authenticated certificate from the executive department under which the person served which states that the person satisfied the requirements of paragraphs (1) and (2) of subsection (b); and (C) the Director finds that the person satisfied the requirement of subsection (b)(3) and (d) Documentation of posthumous citizenship.
If the Director of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services approves the request referred to in subsection (c), the Director shall send to the next-of-kin of the person who is granted citizenship, a suitable document which states that the United States considers the person to have been a citizen of the United States at the time of the person's death.
The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.
ARRA PROVIDED $9K FOR NON-US CITIZEN VETS
When President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, eligible Filipino veterans, who are U.S. citizens were due to receive a one-time payment of $15,000. Those non-U.S. citizens were due to receive $9,000.
In 2013, 18,000 claims were approved. The White House, however, did not disclose how
many of these 18,000 claims were U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens. Also there were 460 appeals that have been granted with a 10.16% grant rate based on total appeals received.
The glacial pace of the approval of claims was due to a catastrophic 1973 fire at the National Personnel Record Center in St. Louis, Missouri that destroyed 16-18 million military service records pertaining to veterans of the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force.
Most Filipino veterans records at the NPRC could not be located. The U.S. Veterans Administration does not recognize the U.S. Army and Philippine Army records that prompted lawmakers to file a bill to expand the sources of eligibility.
In 1941, more than 260,000 Filipino soldiers responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-arms and fought under the American flag during World War II. Many made the ultimate sacrifice as both soldiers of the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East, and as recognized guerilla fighters during the Imperial Japanese occupation of the Philippines.