Two new measures aimed at helping veterans passed votes on the California Assembly floor Thursday.
The measures, proposed by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, will now advance to the state Senate, about halfway through the legislative process.
The first measure, AJR 19, calls on the federal government to halt deportation of non-citizen veterans, pardon veterans who have been deported and bring them home.
Presenting AJR 19 to the Assembly floor Thursday, Garcia said, "Perhaps thousands of these (immigrant) veterans have been deported from the nation they have fought to defend."
Garcia was joined in the state Assembly by Marine Corps veteran Ramon Castro, who walked 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border to raise awareness for what he calls the injustice of deporting national heroes.
"These men and women put their lives on the line, just like the rest of us," Castro said. "They sign up to protect, to go to war and fight for this country that they love. It's the only home they've ever known. And they've gone above and beyond what most Americans won't do."
A second measure proposed by Garcia, AB 2032, passed a floor vote Thursday as well. It calls for a task force to be established to systematically reduce military and veteran suicides.
"Focus on any and all possible deterrence that we may be able to institute in our policies, our programs," Garcia said.
Lawmakers noted that suicide is one of the leading causes of death for veterans, including combat veteran and assemblyman Devon Mathis.
"We're not losing guys in combat. We're losing them here at home," Mathis said.