California may give legal help to deported veterans

Gov. Jerry Brown gestures are he responds to a question concerning his proposed 2014-15 state budget he unveiled at a news conference at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday Jan. 9, 2014. A robust economic recovery and surging revenue propelled by voter-approved tax increases has sent California's general fund spending to a record high, marking a dramatic turn-around for the state. With the an increase in tax receipts, Brown is proposing a spending plan that includes a 8.5 percent increase in general fund spending coupled with a dedication to pay down the state's debt by more than $11 billion.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) ORG XMIT: SC110

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California may start giving legal help to veterans who have been deported.

The state Assembly passed a bill Monday to provide legal representation for people who were honorably discharged from the military but have since been deported.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher says her bill is intended to help deported veterans return to the country. The San Diego Democrat says the bill would help them reunite with their families and access health services and other benefits.

“It’s time we bring our deported vets back,” Gonzalez Fletcher said. “California can lead the way by trying to bring them home.”

The American Civil Liberties Union says it has found dozens of cases where veterans have been deported.

Many deported veterans would have been eligible to become naturalized citizens but were not properly informed about the process, Gonzalez Fletcher said.

Funding for the bill will be subject to availability of money in the state budget.

The bill directs the state to contract with a nonprofit legal services organization. AB386 passed the Assembly without any dissenting votes and now goes to the Senate.

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