Lawmakers want to make it easier for families of veterans to become citizens

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)–In honor of Veterans Day, 16 state landmarks will be lit up green. The Governor also signed a package of veterans’ legislation into law. But there is one bill she hasn’t signed that some lawmakers are calling on her to do. It is called the SSG Alex R. Jimenez New York State Military Immigrant Family Legacy Program.

“Staff Sergeant Alex Jimenez went missing in action in July 2007, and his remains were recovered a year later. I remember that because I was in Iraq when it occurred,” explained Senator Jake Ashby, who sponsors the bill. “But what I didn’t know at the time was that his wife is in the process of being deported, which is an unspeakable travesty.”

To help prevent this from happening in the future, state lawmakers passed a bill that would create a program within the Department of Veterans’ Services to help families of veterans become US citizens.

“This would provide legal resources for them,” explained Ashby. “This would provide social workers for them, really helping them guide through it. It’s really complicated and arduous process.”

Assembly member Catalina Cruz also sponsors the bill.

“It passed unanimously in both the Senate and the Assembly, which is rare, and it’s a testament to how much we believe that immigrant veterans and their families deserve the respect and the support of our state.”

When asked about the bill, Governor Hochul’s press secretary said, “The governor signed seven new laws today to help veterans and their families and is reviewing all 800 bills passed by the legislature in 2023.”

According to Senator Ashby, the governor has proposed making the program volunteer-based, however, he is pushing for the bill to stay as written.

Staff Sargent Jimenez’s brother, Andy, said this will help Alex’s legacy live on.

“Alex’s Legacy was always to help the people who couldn’t help themselves. He is a person who loved his country, loved his family, and would do and did anything to defend it.”

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