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US Army quietly discharging immigrant recruits — APNewsBreak

08 July 2018

The Army is booting reservists and recruits who happen to be immigrants seeking a pathway to citizenship, according to a report on Thursday night.

The AP could not confirm how many people had been discharged, and both the Pentagon and the Army declined to comment to AP.

Stock helped develop a recruitment program to draw immigrants to the Army Reserve - and now she's being flooded with reports of such recruits being kicked out with no explanation.

Some were not given a reason for the sudden discharge, while others were told their family members overseas makes them a security risk, or the Defense Department was not able to complete the required background checks, the AP reports.

The program is restricted to legal immigrants with visas that provide them with lawful residency in the U.S. More than 5,000 were recruited into the program in 2016, while roughly 10,000 are now serving, according to the AP. Those who are facing discharge reportedly enrolled through the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program, which was started under the George W. Bush administration. More than 5,000 immigrants were recruited into the program in 2016, and an estimated 10,000 are now serving.

MAVNI came under attack from conservatives when President Obama made DACA recipients eligible, so the military added additional security clearances for recruits.

The only reason the recruits fail to meet their background check requirements is that the Defense Department had not managed to put them through the necessary screenings and counterintelligence interviews conducted by agencies such as the CIA, FBI and National Intelligence Agency. Last fall the Pentagon abruptly canceled the contracts of hundreds of immigrants still in the recruitment process, and a few months later the program was suspended.

Congressman Andy Harris, R-Maryland, told the AP he wants to limit MAVNI and "prioritize enlisting American citizens".

Eligible recruits are required to have legal status in the US, such as a student visa, before enlisting.

Some of the service members say they were not told why they were being discharged.

"It's awful because I put my life in the line for this country, but I feel like I'm being treated like trash", he said. Such service members were promised an "expedited" path to US citizenship.

Just over 100,000 military personnel have earned citizenship through their service since September 11, 2001, according to the Defense Department.

The Department of Defense recognized on its website that immigrants have been serving in the United States since 1775.

But-and this is a big but-many of the discharged recruits were given an "uncharacterized discharge", rather than an honorable or dishonorable designation.

He said that on June 11, his recruiter called him and to say the 22-year-old will be discharged, despite the fact that he says he passed a military background check.

"I have always been a good soldier and have always done what they ask me to do", she said. Some have been successful, including almost 50 recruits who were granted a type of temporary status while their background investigations are being completed.

US Army quietly discharging immigrant recruits — APNewsBreak