Legislation to Assist Deported Veterans Unanimously Approved by Assembly

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SACRAMENTO – California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) Monday won approval for Assembly Bill 386 to provide legal representation to foreign-born U.S. military veterans who have been deported under federal immigration law. The legislation passed the Assembly with a unanimous, bipartisan vote.

“These men and women have fought for our country, only to be tossed aside by the very government they served, and that’s offensive to me as a American and as the wife of a veteran” Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher said. “Immigrants who serve are promised their citizenship, and we need to keep that promise. Today’s action moves us one step closer.”

AB 386 would authorize the state to contract with qualified non-profit legal service organizations to provide legal services to deported veterans who are seeking reentry to the nation they served, pending funding through the budget. A recent report by the American Civil Liberties Association (ACLU) of California titled Discharged, then Discarded highlighted the federal government’s cruel policy of deporting immigrant veterans for minor, misdemeanor offenses, such as possession of marijuana. The ACLU estimates more than 250 veterans have been deported to 34 countries, although the precise number of deported veterans is unclear, as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency responsible for the deportations, does not keep track of those figures. An estimated 70,000 noncitizens enlisted in the U.S. military from 1999 to 2008, according to the Center for Naval Analyses, a research and development center for the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps.

Special provisions of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act authorize U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to expedite the application and naturalization process for current members of the U.S. Armed Forces and recently discharged service members. These provisions are being flouted or ignored when it comes to these veterans, many of whom came to the United States as children, grew up here, and consider themselves patriotic Americans. In many cases, the veterans who are deported are sent to countries with which they do not speak the language or have any real connection.

For more information on AB 386, or to request an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher, contact John Vigna at (916) 319-2080 or (916) 212-0357.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Most immigrants are on a legal path to citizenship from the beginning of service. This bill may only help those who refuse to become citizens until they find themselves deported. Then and only then do they seek citizenship. Do we want our tax dollars to help such an opposition character?

    These California Legislators are a incompetent. A simple search would have saved hours of minion work writing this bill.

    From the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services):
    Under special provisions in Section 329 of the INA, the President signed an executive order on July 3, 2002, authorizing all noncitizens who have served honorably in the U.S. armed forces on or after Sept. 11, 2001, to immediately file for citizenship. This order also covers veterans of certain designated past wars and conflicts. The authorization will remain in effect until a date designated by a future presidential executive order.

    Naturalization at Basic Training

    USCIS established the Naturalization at Basic Training Initiative in August 2009 with the Army to give noncitizen enlistees the opportunity to naturalize when they graduate from basic training. Under this initiative, USCIS conducts all naturalization processing including the capture of biometrics, the naturalization interview and administration of the Oath of Allegiance on the military installation. Since 2009 USCIS has expanded the initiative to the Navy, Air Force, and finally to the Marine Corps in 2013, giving enlistees of these branches equal opportunity to (in most cases) leave basic training as U.S. citizens.

    Nice try at the votes from veteran supporters Gonzales.

    • If you are assuming that the USCIS runs at 100% efficiency, well maybe. But, what government agency is 100% efficient? How about the INS? I’m not convinced they are.

      What I got from this article is a humanitarian effort to help those who were deported after serving as a member of the US military and declaring by an oath to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States.

      We should make a great effort not to let these folks slip through the gaping cracks of the INS.

  2. The only immigrants racists are okay with are the ones that caused genocide to the natives on this continent. Explains a lot…

  3. Lorena, not sure what to make of this legislation…hope u r doing the right thing. I’m still P.O’d about your diapers for derelicts proposal😃…hope Jerry uses the vetoe pen. FYI, we grew up poor, family of five, nobody was there to help mom out with diapers back in 1960. Dad had a work ethic, passed it down to us-we turned out ok.

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