The Many (Forgotten) Faces of America
When the US naval bases in the Philippines closed in 1992, the military left behind thousands of Amerasian children. Since the closings, American presence still exists and -contrary to initial estimate of 52,000 – it is now estimated that there are 250,000 Amerasian children, ranging from newborn to geriatric, abandoned in the Philippines. These Amerasians are acutely vulnerable, particularly to human trafficking, and painfully stigmatized. They live in abject poverty, forcing them to continue the cycle of marginalized sub-existence and prostitution.
How can one be half-American and still not a citizen? The US Senate Judiciary Committee rejected attempts to include the Philippines in the Naturalization Act, “claiming that Filipino Amerasians were not victims of discrimination, that they were conceived from illegal prostitution, and that, unlike Amerasians in South Korea and Vietnam, they were born during peacetime. But none of these are unconscionable grounds for selectively preventing Filipino Amerasians from coming to this country.
At a time when the issue of immigration reform is before the nation, Amerasians need new leaders in Congress to speak on their behalf. What’s more, the military has recently announced that it will restore a significant presence in the Philippines; last year, over 70 ships stopped at Subic Bay, and over 100 planes stop at Clark Air Base each month. The United States, then, has an opportunity for redemption — to make sure Filipino Amerasians are not left behind by the ship again.” (1)