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

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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

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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.”

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.