Pentagon may deport immigrants who served in the U.S. military
The U.S. Army asked them to be all they can be. Now they’re at risk of being deported. On Monday evening, The Washington Post reported that the Pentagon is thinking about canceling enlistment contracts for more than 1,000 recruits who have signed on to the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program — which gives expedited citizenship to foreign-born individuals who agree to serve in the military — even though doing so might very well lead to their deportation:
The undated action memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis by personnel and intelligence officials at the Pentagon and obtained by The Washington Post, describes potential security threats of immigrants recruited in a program designed to award fast-tracked citizenship in exchange for urgently needed medical and language skills.
Additionally, 4,100 troops — most of whom are naturalized citizens — may face “enhanced screening,” though the Pentagon voiced concern on how to navigate “significant legal constraints” of “continuous monitoring” of citizens without cause, according to the memo.
Officials have assigned threat level tiers to the nearly 10,000 MAVNI program recruits, both in the service and waiting to serve, based on characteristics like proximity to classified information or how thoroughly they have been vetted.
If the Pentagon goes through with the plan, it would fly in the face of the very mission of MAVNI, which was launched by the Defense Department in 2009 as a way to fill specific needs that were deemed “vital” to the military’s success. What doesn’t seem vital is fulfilling our end of the deal, which was the promise of American citizenship.
The problem, according to the memo, is that heightened security restrictions for MAVNI recruits — which were enacted in 2016 — have necessitated that more “already constrained” money, time, and manpower be given to the program in order to complete the vetting process alone. As such, the Pentagon wants to cancel the contracts of the 1,800 recruits who have not yet received their basic training orders, and possibly end the program altogether:
Defense Department spokesman Johnny Michael said Monday the agency is reviewing program requirements, declining to confirm the existence of the memo or ongoing internal discussions. The copy obtained by The Washington Post was signed off by Pentagon personnel official Tony Kurta on May 19. It is unclear when the memo was issued and its current status.
Margaret Stock, a retired Army officer central in implementing the program in 2009, reviewed the document and called the decision a breach of contract made in bad faith.
“It’s terrible. You trusted the Army, who delayed the process, and now they’re going to cancel your contract and have you deported,” Stock said.
Just another weekday in Donald Trump’s America.