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Immigrants Kicked Out of the U.S. Military

Immigrants Kicked Out of the U.S. Military

Immigrants Kicked Out of the U.S. Military

By Debbie Gregory

There is a big difference between the Delayed Entry Program (DEP), which allows foreign-born individuals going into active duty in the United States Armed Forces to enlist first in the DEP before they ship out to Basic Training, and the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program (MAVNI), which was designed to help the military attract health care professionals or personnel with specific language skills.

The Marine Corps says “yea” to their foreign-born DEP recruits, while the Army apparently says “nay” to their foreign-born MAVNI recruits, quietly booting dozens of soldiers who’d joined the military with the promise that they’d qualify for U.S. citizenship.

In 2016, Panshu Zhao of China enlisted in the U.S. Army after attending graduate school at Texas A&M University. Now, he is one of the dozens of immigrant recruits and reservists struggling with abrupt, often unexplained military discharges and canceled contracts.

Zhao, 31, said his “ship out” date to basic training was delayed for two years as he underwent background checks, counterintelligence interviews and rigorous reviews added as requirements for immigrant enlistees. In the meantime, he continued to pursue his PhD in geography, staying in shape in preparation for boot camp. He also trained, in uniform, with his unit. He had military identification and health care.

In April, he got word from his unit commander that he was being discharged. He was only told that his discharge was “uncharacterized,” Zhao said.

“I’m not a national threat. On the contrast, I’m a national merit because people like me with higher education and critical skills; we want to serve this great U.S. Army. I’m a good scientist no matter what.”

Even though all of the eligible recruits are required to have legal status before enlisting, in order to become citizens, the service members need an honorable service designation, which can come after even just a few days at boot camp. But the recently discharged service members can’t be naturalized because their basic training was delayed.

It is not clear what affect the service members’ discharges could have on their status as legal immigrants.

According to the Department of Defense, some 110,000 members of the Armed Forces have gained citizenship by serving in the U.S. military since the September 11th attacks.

 

U.S. Army Has Canceled Enlistment of Hundreds of Immigrant Recruits

armyarmy

By Debbie Gregory.

The United States Army has reportedly canceled the enlistment contracts for hundreds of foreign-born military.

Many of these enlistees have been waiting years to participate in Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI), a special recruiting program designed to attract highly skilled immigrants into the service in exchange for fast-track citizenship.

At this time, the Department of Defense has stopped accepting applications for the MAVNI program.

The Pentagon has denied ordering a mass cancellation of immigrant recruit contracts and said there were no incentives to do so.

But many of the MAVNI recruits are in limbo. About 1,000 recruits have been waiting so long to enlist that their legal status has expired without much time to try to restart the citizenship process through other channels. There are others who find themselves in the United States illegally, but disqualified from going home because of their attempts to enlist in the U.S. military.

The program has rotated 10,400 troops into the military, mostly the Army, since its inception in 2009.

Motivated by financial pressure, a staggering workload, and the current climate on immigration, U.S. Army recruiters are dumping the immigrant recruits.  Although the military has benefited from these recruits, getting them through the system generates a disproportionate amount of work for recruiters. The layered security checks can add months or years to the enlistment process, frustrating recruiters who must meet strictly enforced goals by quickly processing recruits.

According to the Pentagon, there are 2,400 foreign recruits with signed contracts who are drilling in reserve units who have not been naturalized and have not gone to basic training. About 1,600 others are waiting to clear background checks before active duty service.

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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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Will the DoD Renege On Enlistment Contracts for Foreign-Born Service Members?

DEP

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.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

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.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the ArmyNavyAir ForceMarinesCoast Guard,Guard and ReserveVeterans 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 Boardinformation 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: 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