By Rick Neisman, Spectrum Local News
The family members of New York veterans and active military personnel would have support in securing immigration status in the country under a bipartisan measure approved last week in the state Assembly.
The bill was developed and approved in honor of Staff Sgt. Alex Jimenez, who enlisted in the Army in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, was taken prisoner and later found dead. Jimenez had been in the process of securing legal status for his wife before he died, but had been turned down. She was later granted discretionary parole due to her husband’s service.
The bill approved in the Assembly was worked on by Republican Assemblyman Jake Ashby and Democratic Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz. The bill would create a program that provides support and services for military families seeking dcoumented status in the United States.
“I am immensely proud that my colleague Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz and I have succeeded in establishing the Alex R. Jimenez NYS Military Immigrant Family Legacy Program, a program that recognizes the sacrifices military families make for our country while assisting New Yorkers in gaining legal citizenship status” said Ashby, the ranking Republican on the Assembly Committee on Veteran’s Affairs. “The ability to make a lasting and positive impact on our State is what drew me to public office and this legislation will have such an impact as it will make the dream of citizenship a reality for so many New Yorkers while also honoring a true American hero, Staff Sgt. Alex Jimenez.”
More than 130,000 immigrant members of the military have received naturalized status since September 2001, Cruz said. More than 20% of those recipients were also awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
“Yet, the road to obtaining U.S. citizenship is not easy and not much support is provided to these brave people seeking assistance with immigration matters,” Cruz said. “This bill will change that by ensuring access to resources so that our immigrant service members can pursue their citizenship dreams. I want to thank Assemblyman Ashby for his bipartisan partnership and dedication to not only his brother-in-arms, Sergeant Alex Jimenez, but also to the veterans of New York State and their families.”