News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by A Martínez
Airs Weekdays 9 to 10 a.m.

How California could step up to fight the deportation of veterans




In this Feb. 13, 2017 photo, U.S. Army veteran Hector Barajas, who was deported, poses for a portrait in his office at the Deported Veterans Support House, nicknamed
In this Feb. 13, 2017 photo, U.S. Army veteran Hector Barajas, who was deported, poses for a portrait in his office at the Deported Veterans Support House, nicknamed "the bunker" in Tijuana, Mexico.
Gregory Bull/AP

Listen to story

06:22
Download this story 9.0MB

In a two-part series, KPCC's Dorian Merina took an in-depth look at military veterans who have been convicted of a crime and deported.

It's an issue that hits home for many right here in Southern California.

The Golden State has the largest number of vets in the nation and, of course, a large immigrant population.

Merina sat down with Take Two's A Martinez to share some ways that the government might step up to prevent more veterans from getting deported. 

You shared in your story how some veterans are having trouble getting their citizenship. Is the government addressing that issue?

The current policy is that military service can speed up the process, but there's nothing automatic. President Bush signed an order after 9/11 that made it easier for soldiers serving during times of hostility to get their citizenship. That's still in effect. 

In 2015, there were 7,500 service members who were naturalized, and the number goes even higher when you include children or spouses.

The breakdown comes when servicemembers are headed off to military installations or they're deployed. They tell me that their priority is fulfilling their duties. They don't keep track of a naturalization application.

Are there any changes coming?

Many are pointing to a state measure here in California that has the best chances of becoming law. That bill is called AB386. That would set up a legal fund for deported veterans. It got bipartisan support and it cleared the Assembly. It's now before the Senate. Backers say they're hoping for a vote before this summer. 

Press the blue play button above to hear the full interview.