Arlington resident and 86-year-old World War II veteran Rudy Panaglima delivered a heartfelt speech on Capitol Hill Thursday morning, thanking lawmakers for a new immigration that allow Filipino veterans to be reunited with their families.
Panaglima was just 13 years old when he joined a Philippine guerrilla unit that secretly worked with the United States during World War II. Eventually, he became a member of the United States Army in the Philippines.
Filipino veterans who served for the United States during World War II received citizenship in appreciation for their service. However, many of their children were not able to.
Panaglima and his 83 year old wife Pura, have been waiting since 1995 for their two sons to come to the United States.
“We need our sons to take care of us because of our age,” said Panaglima.
Other speakers included Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D), Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono (D), Nevada Sen. Harry Reid (D) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Chief of Staff Juliet Choi.
“For too many years, Filipino veterans who fought valiantly alongside the United States in World War II – including many who call Virginia home – have been waiting for the promise of reunification with their families to be fulfilled,” Kaine said. “I’m so pleased that implementation of the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program has finally begun and that families like Rudy and Pura Panaglima of Arlington will soon be reunited with their sons who can provide them with much-needed care.”
Panaglima and his wife Pura have been living in the United States for over 21 years. Throughout the years, they have moved all around the D.C. area. However, now they currently reside along Lee Highway.
The Filipino World War II Veterans Parole (FWVP) Program, which officially took effect Wednesday, allows Filipino veterans or their spouses, whose service has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense, to apply to bring their children to the United States. The policy also allows the families to be together in the United States while the applications are processed.
“In a few months, my two sons will be with us in America because of this program. On behalf of the Panaglima family I would like to convey our gratitude,” said Panaglima.