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.


Army Faces Challenges in Recruiting 80,000 Troops


By Debbie Gregory.

With only thirty percent of applicants being qualified to join the U.S. military, the U.S. Army is facing a big challenge to meet its  recruiting goal of  80,000 new soldiers.

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, commanding general of United States Army Recruiting Command,  is charged with signing 62,500 recruits for the U.S. Army and 15,400 for the U.S. Army Reserve in fiscal 2017, which runs Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2017.

Rising obesity rates in the U.S. have made recruiting people especially challenging, but  Snow is not in favor of changing or adjusting the requirements to enlist because he believes that doing so would ultimately reduce the quality of the military.

“We don’t want to sacrifice quality,” Snow said. “If we lower the quality, yes we might be able to make our mission – but that’s not good for the organization. The American public has come to expect a qualified Army that can defend the nation. I don’t think the American public would like us to lower the quality of those joining the Army if they knew it’s going to impact our ability to perform the very functions or nation expects us to do.”

In January, the Armed Forces will implement a five-part test to measure physical fitness, called the occupational physical assessment, to make sure male and female recruits will meet the physical requirements for the job.

Other requirements for joining any branch of the U.S. Military include: U.S. citizenship or a green card ; at least 18 years old, or 17years old with parental consent; a high school diploma.

Additional requirement to join the Army include: be aged 17-34; have no more than two dependents; pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude test with a minimum AFQT score of  31.

“If there comes a point where young men and women are unwilling to raise their right hand and commit an oath to something bigger than themselves, yes, it could be a national security challenge,” Snow said. ” “I have too much confidence in my team of recruiters, and I think the youth of today gets a bad rap.”

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