Ashby Bill Aimed at Helping Service Members, Veterans Gain Legal Immigration Status Clears Assembly Veterans’ Committee

A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Jake Ashby (R,C,I-Castleton) and Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz (D-39th Assembly District) to create the Alex R. Jimenez New York State Military Immigrant Family Legacy Program (A.4660) unanimously passed the Assembly Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The legislation would establish a program to help secure legal immigration status for the families of NYS Veterans and active military personnel. The bill will now move to the Committee on Ways & Means before being put up for a vote before the entire Assembly body.

“Today was a great first step in making the Alex R. Jimenez NYS Military Immigrant Family Legacy Program a reality,” said Ashby. “I am proud that the bill was unanimously approved by the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, highlighting the bipartisan support of this outstanding and essential program. The tremendous sacrifices our armed forces personnel make are shared burdens. The sacrifices are made as a family, and this program rightfully honors military families and will fulfill the dream of citizenship for countless New Yorkers.”

Ashby noted that this legislation was a collaborative effort with Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, who co-introduced the legislation. “I am honored to partner with Assemblywoman Cruz in developing this legislation,” said Ashby. “Her expertise and experience in helping immigrant families navigate the often-cumbersome immigration process is unmatched – without her insight and dedication this legislation would not be possible.”

Assemblywoman Cruz also expressed her pleasure with the Alex R. Jimenez New York State Military Immigrant Family Legacy Program unanimously passing the Veterans’ Affairs Committee this morning.

"After putting their bodies on the line, many current and retired members of our armed forces have had to face the threat of separation from their loved ones because of our broken immigration system. I am proud to lead the charge on the Alex R. Jimenez New York State Military Immigrant Family Legacy Program, alongside Assemblyman Jake Ashby, to ensure these families can access support and services to keep their families together.It is the least we can do after their sacrifice for our country," said Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz. 

The bill’s namesake, Staff Sgt. Alex R. Jimenez, was born in New York City to parents from the Dominican Republic. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was deployed as part of the 10th Mountain Division to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom. His unit was attacked in 2007, and he was taken as a prisoner by insurgents and listed as missing, but was later found killed. While he was missing, his wife was without documentation and removal proceedings had begun. Jimenez was in the process of trying to seek legal status for his wife before he was deployed, but was denied because of her illegal entry. However, Homeland Security had granted her discretionary parole in honor of Jimenez’s sacrifice and service to the country. She has since secured permanent residency in the country.