By Debbie Gregory.
Some 1,000 foreign-born service members whose visas have expired while they were enlisted under the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) could be facing deportation.
The DEP, also called the Delayed Enlistment Program or the Future Soldiers Program, allows individuals to sign an enlistment agreement to report on a certain date for training, but they are not yet a member of the United States Armed Forces until they enlist in the regular component of their selected branch on their ship date.
But under a proposed Department of Defense policy, these individuals may have their contracts cancelled and be deported. Most of these enlistees are DEPpers who are already preparing for military service while they await their recruit-training entry.
The undated action memo prepared for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis by personnel and intelligence officials at the Pentagon and obtained by the Washington Post. The memo describes potential security threats of immigrants recruited in a program designed to award fast-tracked citizenship.
Under the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program, the DoD has recruited legal aliens with critical skills, such as certain health care professionals and experts in certain languages. But those service members, as well as new MAVNI recruits have been draining Army fiscal and manpower resources.
The DoD has recommend “canceling enlistment contracts for all 1,800 awaiting orders for basic training, and halting the program altogether,” according to Army veteran Alex Horton, a reporter for the Washington Post. Additionally, 4,100 troops, most of whom are naturalized citizens, may face “enhanced screening.”
Defense Department spokesman Johnny Michael said that the agency is reviewing program requirements, declining to confirm the existence of the memo or ongoing internal discussions.
If their contracts are cancelled, many of them are in immediate danger of deportation.