Senator Joel Anderson’s (R-El Cajon) Senate Bill (SB) 156 was signed by Governor Brown today. This new legislation will require the California Department of Veterans Affairs and the California National Guard to assist returning veterans and current members of the Guard in filing the necessary forms and paperwork to apply for citizenship, including information on where to acquire legal assistance.
Under federal law, non-citizen U.S. residents may receive expedited citizenship application in exchange for service in the Armed Forces. SB 156 will ensure that California does its part by moving the process along as efficiently as possible.
Many veterans come back with Traumatic Brain Injury or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In the past, due to a brush with the law resulting from a service connected disability, some veterans have ended up deported, instead of treated and supported, because they had not filled out the right paper work when leaving the service.
Anderson applauded the Governor’s action and released this statement:
“SB 156 is an important step toward keeping our promise to the brave men and women who defend our freedom, many of whom will long bear the seen and unseen scars of their sacrifice. They entered the service whole and came back broken. And it’s our moral obligation to ensure that anyone who defends our liberty has every opportunity to access the care and services they earned and need to be made whole again.”
Frederick A. Romero, Commander of the American GI Forum of California stated, “It is a travesty of justice that United States military veterans have been deported, especially while we are still at war. What message does this send to other non-citizens who might want to answer the call to service for our country? Senator Anderson’s bill is a common sense approach by the State of California which will ensure that our state’s military forces help these men and women properly prepare and initiate the steps to citizenship that they have earned by virtue of their service.”
Lorraine Plass, Legislative Chair for AMVETS Department of California, said “Since 9-11, the US military has been operating under an executive order authorizing all non-citizens who served honorably during the Period of Hostility to file for citizenship. These men and women risked their lives and fought for this country and SB 156 will direct California to address this process at the front end, thereby alleviating the present problem of our veterans being deported.”