(Sacramento, CA) – On Thursday, May 26, the California State Assembly approved Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia’s (D-Coachella) AJR 19, calling for immediate federal action to halt the deportation of veterans.
“Our veterans put their lives on the line to defend our nation, yet noncitizen veterans are still being deported from the country they love and served – forced to leave their families, leading to unjust trauma and hardships. Immigration policy reform, especially for our veterans, is long overdue,” said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia.
“With AJR 19, we want to send a strong message to the federal government, calling on them to act immediately. It is unconscionable to deport our nation’s heroes to countries where they will lose accessibility to the veteran services they have earned and often to places where they have no memories and do not speak the language. Yet, upon their deaths, they can be brought back to the United States to be honored. We should honor their valiant contributions by allowing our service members to stay in the country, their home that they fought to protect.”
Nearly 24,000 noncitizen immigrants are currently serving in the United States military, and approximately 5,000 more join each year. Over the past two decades, thousands of noncitizen service members have provided critical contributions to United States military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. Noncitizens have enlisted in the United States military since the Revolutionary War.
While there is no record of how many United States military veterans have been deported, advocates have identified hundreds across the globe who are stuck outside of the country they served. For many deported veterans, the United States is the only country that they have ever known, and English being the only language they have ever learned.
Following AJR 19’s Assembly vote, Assemblymember Garcia welcomed Brawley Marine Corps veteran Ramon Castro to our State Capitol, honoring his service in the military as well as his work with the American Veterans Homefront Initiative. In 2021, Castro conducted a 2,000-mile advocacy walk across the U.S.-Mexico border to call attention to the injustice of deporting national heroes. Castro was awarded as Assemblymember Garcia’s 2015 Veteran of the Year for the 56th Assembly District.
AJR 19 will next go before the State Senate. Once successfully passed, AJR 19 becomes an official positon from the State of California that will be sent to the President and Vice President of the United States, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Majority Leader of the Senate, Minority Leader of the Senate, and to each California Senator and Representative in congress.