The Filipino American Community in the United States ( Part 2)
October 06, 2013
The Filipino American Community in the United States
( Part 2)
By Arturo P. Garcia
Immigration reform law of 1965
In the 1960s, a new immigration reform law was passed. Concomitant to the law was the family reunification law that allowed families from Asia to come to the United States. This started the “brain drain” phenomenon that happened in the Philippines and the rest of Asia.
More than 350,000 Filipino/a professionals—doctors, nurse, teachers, engineers—migrated to the United States, Canada and other parts of the world. The cream of the crop emigrated to the United States.
Thus it was called “Brain Drain” in the Philippines,
The declaration of martial law in the Philippines in 1972 and the installation of a fascist dictatorship hastened more migration to the United States. More than 5,000 Filipinos, mostly political refugees, sought protection from the Marcos dictatorship by immigration to the United States, but less than 1 percent got political refugee status.
By the 1990s, Filipinos became one of the largest Asian migrant populations in the United States—more than one million strong. Los Angeles became the home of the largest Filipino population outside of the Philippines numbering more than 300,000.
World War II veterans’ issues
On July 27, 1941, the 120,000-strong Philippine armed forces under the commonwealth government were conscripted by the United States through a military order of President Roosevelt. They formed the bulk of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE).
When World War II broke out and after the USAFFE surrendered in May 1942 to the Japanese, Filipinos and some American officers formed their independent guerilla forces to fight a three year war of resistance against the Japanese invaders.
Their guerilla armies all over the archipelago ballooned to more than 250,000 under American and Filipino officers.
One of the largest guerilla army was the Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon (HUKBALAHAP) or the People’s Anti-Japanese Guerilla Army based in Central Luzon and Southern Luzon. It was under the leadership of the Communists. It numbered more than 10,000 of whom 7,000 were armed and were organized into squadrons ( oversized companies.).
All in all, more than 500,000 Filipinos served under the US Army but still on Feb. 18, 1946, after the war ended, the 79th U.S. Congress passed the Rescission Act. Of whom only 250,000 were recognized under the US Army List as “American Veterans”.
When the Recission Act of 1946 became a law did not recognize the military service of Filipinos during World War II. It denied them veterans’ benefits.
They are not recognized as American veterans and have lived in poverty. But as senior citizens and naturalized American citizens they were given Social Security Incentive (SSI). Still may Filipino Veterans were able to come to the united States by family petitions of their families.
Together, the core of this Filipino Veterans and their families together with their friends and advocates started the movement for equity and justice. The poverty and neglect is similar to that of their fellow American veterans, many of whom are homeless and destitute in the United States.
But in 1984, the Filipino veterans and the community started to organize, demanding recognition and full benefits.
By 1984, one of the first Filipino Veterans organization led by anti-martial law activist was formed in Los Angeles- The United Filipino American Veterans (UFAV). They and their American allies started to lobby in the US Congress and demanded naturalization for Filipino Veterans in the Philippines as promised by American president Franklin Roosevelt.
By 1991, President Bush assigned the Special immigration Law that gave the Filipino veterans the right ot be naturalized. ore than 30,000 Filipino WWII veterans had come to the United States by 1991.
They acquired automatic citizenship due to the immigration reform act of 1990. Only 11,000 are still in the United States today. They are still discriminated against.
By 1993, mass actions started led by the December 7 Movement (D7M) in Los Angeles. The movement gained momentum. By 1998, the Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) was formed.
Today, after 67 years and after 21 years of continued advocacy, hopes are brighter for the passage of an equity bill that will give military pensions to the remaining 41,000 Filipino veterans and their survivors both in the United States and in the Philippines.
( end of Part 2)