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DACA’s End Could Impact Foreign Born Military Recruits

daca

By Debbie Gregory.

President Trump’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) could have a profound impact on the U.S. military.

At a time when the military is struggling to meet recruiting goals, experts say foreign recruits have skills important to the military’s mission.

The Pentagon says about 900 people currently in uniform, or who have signed up to serve, are recipients of work authorization through DACA. The so-called “dreamers” whose DACA protection expires before they complete basic training will have their service contract nullified, and they could be subject to deportation proceedings.

For now, the Pentagon is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security to find out what this policy change will mean for DACA recipients currently in the military.

Many of these dreamers no longer speak their native tongues, and many of them no longer have familial ties in their countries of origin.

Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI), an initiative designed to exchange fast-tracked citizenship for crucial medical and language skills among foreign-born recruits, has rotated 10,400 troops into the military since 2009.

Additionally, adversarial nations like China or Russia could learn any potential DACA deportees attempted to enlist in the U.S. military, leaving them exposed to the possibility of harsh treatment or interrogation. Some foreign-born recruits have already sought asylum to avoid deportation, including at least one Iraqi national who fled to Canada to prevent a confrontation with Islamic State militants.

“By definition, DACA recipients are a prescreened pool of people of a higher quality than the average recruit,” said Margaret Stock, a retired Army officer and immigration lawyer who led MAVNI’s design and implementation. “They have no criminal background and graduated from high school. And they’re highly motivated to join the military because it’s their only option to stay in the country.”

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Military Connection: House Votes Against Dreamers in the Military

MAVNI

By Debbie Gregory.

The amendment to allow more illegal immigrants to enlist in the U.S. military has been shot down.

Between January 1st and May 1st, 2015, there were 81 illegal immigrants who enlisted in the U.S. military. These individuals were permitted to join the armed forces through the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program. The MAVNI program was created to make it easier for legal immigrants with medical training or critical language skills deemed vital to the national security to enlist. But there were recent proposals made in the House of Representatives to allow illegal immigrants to enlist through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The DACA program was implemented in 2012. The program grants young, undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children (commonly referred to as “dreamers”), the ability to be lawfully present in the U.S. while they work towards legal citizenship.

Congressman Ruben Gallego from Arizona, who is also a Veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and the son of immigrant parents, recently proposed a provision to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the 2016 defense policy bill, that would encourage the Pentagon to expand the recruitment of dreamers through the DACA program.

Gallego’s provision to the NDAA sparked a heated debate and a close vote in the House. There are those who feel that at a time when the armed forces are slimming down their ranks, making enlistment requirements stricter across the board, a provision such as Gallego’s would provide an unfair advantage to the immigrant children who entered the country illegally, over those who were born here or came here legally. Others believe that the U.S. military deserves to have its choice of the best, brightest, strongest and most resilient service members, no matter where they were born or what their immigration status is. With that said, on May 14th, the House voted 221-202 against Gallego’s provision.

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Military Connection: House Votes Against Dreamers in the Military: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Immigrant Enlistment Suspended: By Debbie Gregory

mavniLast month, the Pentagon announced that it would allow “illegal immigrants,” meaning those without legal citizenship status, to join the U.S. military. But as of October 23, 2014, that program has been suspended.

The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program had allowed non U.S. citizens to enlist in the U.S. armed forces, as long as they possessed a skill that was deemed “vital” to a branch or its mission. Usually, these skills included fluency in a “vital” language, an advanced engineering degree, or experience as a healthcare professional.

Last month, the plan was to expand the MAVNI program to include undocumented immigrants who fell under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. This announcement was met with a lot of passion from Americans, both from those in favor and those opposed to the expansion of the program.

Now, the official word from the Pentagon is that the program is on hold while recruiting officials can sort out a process for accurately screening MAVNI candidates.

The MAVNI program was created by the Army in 2008. The intention of the yearlong pilot program was to recruit documented immigrants with specialized skills in military occupations where there was a vital need and, in turn, offer the immigrants an expedited path to U.S. citizenship. Since inception, more than 2,900 recruits have enlisted in the military through the MAVNI program.

The program ran until 2010, when it slowed due to lack of need and the impending downsizing of forces. MAVNI restarted again in 2012, with authorization to run for an additional two years, with a 1,500-person cap. The program was set to expire September, 2014, but the program was extended through fiscal 2016. At the same time, it was extended to undocumented immigrants. But for now, the entire MAVNI program is on hold.

Officials from the Pentagon expect the MAVNI program to reopen by late November for all applicants with legal immigration status. Currently, there is no timetable for renewing the expansion of DACA beneficiaries and other applicants without legal documentation status.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Immigrant Enlistment Suspended: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Illegal Immigrants to Enlist: By Debbie Gregory

MAVNIThe DOD recently announced a policy that will allow illegal immigrants to join the U.S. Military. The DOD is expanding its Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI). This will give recruiters the ability to target foreign nationals with high-demand skills to serve as full-fledged members of the armed forces. The high-demand skills consist of rare or in-demand foreign language expertise, as well as specialized health care training.

Previously, MAVNI was only open to legal non-U.S. citizens. Applicants were required to have been in the U.S. legally for a minimum of two years, have a high school education, achieve qualifying scores on a military entrance examination, and successfully pass a proficiency test for the vital language or skill that they possess.

Participation in the MAVNI program has been used as a fast-track to legal U.S. citizenship for thousands of immigrants.

It has been estimated that as many as 2.1 million children, teenagers and adults living in the U.S. do not possess legal immigration status, but could still meet the criteria for joining the U.S. Military under the expanded MAVNI program. Using the Obama administration’s 2012 policy known as Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA), immigrants without a proper visa may join the Military if they came to the U.S. with their parents before age 16, so long as they possess a skill that is considered vital by their branch of service.

To be cleared for the program, illegal immigrants will have to be granted DACA status. DACA status is granted by Homeland Security and includes a background check.

The expanded program is to be capped at 1,500 recruits per year. Under the expanded MAVNI program, recruiters are more likely to target immigrants with language skills critical to national security, such as Arabic, Chinese, Pashto or Persian,.

The U.S. Military recruits around 5,000 non-citizens each year. Most of them are permanent U.S. residents. In 2006, the DOD began accepting foreigners with non-permanent visas, such as students or tourists, if they had special skills that are highly valued.

Since 2001, more than 92,000 foreign-born service members have become U.S. citizens while serving in the military.

Historically, the Army has been the only branch to accept a significant number of recruits under the program. The branches of the military are not required to accept recruits under MAVNI.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Illegal Immigrants to Enlist: By Debbie Gregory