Deported Military Veterans Seeking U.S. Citizenship Will Get Access to State Legal Aid

SACRAMENTO, Calif.  August 29, 2017 – Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher applauded the California Department of Social Services for declaring that the state will provide legal services to deported military veterans from California, a huge victory for these often-overlooked veterans as they seek citizenship.. Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher made this issue one of her top priorities for the 2017 legislative year and personally requested a letter from the CDSS affirming its commitment to provide these legal services.

“This is great news for anyone who cares about how our nation treats its veterans,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher said. “These are patriots who were willing to risk their lives for this country. To reward their service and sacrifice by deporting them is unconscionable and un-American.”

California becomes the first to provide this legal help, which will be available to all deported veterans who formerly lived in California and were honorably discharged from the military, according to an Aug. 25 letter from the Department of Social Service. A copy of the DSS letter is attached.

Hector Barajas-Varela, director and founder of Deported Veterans Support House, thanked Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher for her work on this issue. “She still believes in honoring our commitment to our veterans,” he said. “If you’re a deported veteran and you don’t have the right legal resources, you don’t have a fighting chance.”

For several years, Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher has led the fight to get these veterans the legal help they deserve. In many cases, the federal government – through a combination of disorganization, poor communication and other bureaucratic problems – failed to make sure these veterans followed the necessary procedures to become citizens. Many veterans mistakenly believed their military service automatically made them citizens. In some cases, military higher-ups failed to inform them of the proper protocols. In some cases, the federal government lost or misplaced these veterans’ citizenship applications.

Sometimes these veterans were deported for relatively minor criminal offenses committed after they left the service. They face a long list of hardships, including lack of access to VA-related healthcare.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher represents California’s 80th Assembly District, located in southern San Diego County, including the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, and National City. She serves as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Women in the Workplace, and Vice Chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus. For more information on Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher visit https://a80.asmdc.org/