July 16, 2018

Immigrants promised citizenship, now discharged by U.S. Army

Immigrants recruited to serve in the U.S. Army were recently discharged and told they are no longer eligible to serve. The group of about 40 legal immigrants had joined the military as part of a Department of Defense program.

According to NPR, the program was called Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI), and it offered these recruits an expedited path to U.S. citizenship. These foreign recruits were valued for their special skills in languages and medical training. Those allowed to enroll in MAVNI had student visas or were seeking asylum from their home countries.

Many of the recently discharged have been waiting years to become active duty service members. Some now face deportation concerns with expiring visas or questions about their right to seek asylum.

Through the MAVNI’s program’s nine-year history, over 10,000 service members enlisted in the military. More security checks were added over the years, which slowed down the process evaluating the backgrounds of soldiers. It created a backlog of recruits waiting to be called up to active duty. It also slowed their citizenship process. Though the program is officially shuttered, there are still enlistees, like the 40 recently discharged, that have been caught up in the paperwork.

A recently discharged recruit stated his rejection was due to a failed background check. He received no explanation for the background check issue, nor was he allowed to appeal it.

The Pentagon has stated it has not changed any policies regarding immigrants joining the military. Some accuse the Pentagon of slowing down the process so severely, that instead of adding the resources needed to process these background checks, they are just discharging potential service members. This comes during a time when the Army’s need for soldiers is swelling – 76,000 recruits are needed this year alone – while some 70 percent of young people do not meet the qualifications to get into the military.

Some recruits rejected from the military have filed suit. If you are facing immigration issues related to your military discharge, you may want to reach out to an attorney experienced in immigration law. An experienced immigration attorney can walk you through the complex and often confusing process.