Donald Trump Betrays A Promise Made By President G.W. Bush To Give Expedited Citizenship To Legal Immigrants Joining The U.S. Army
Posted by Xena
A special recruitment program by the U.S. Army promising legal immigrants a path to citizenship turns out to be a pipe dream.
The program offers naturalization with an honorable service designation that can be given after a few days of boot camp. Enlistment contracts were signed, and the Army oath taken. Now, Army reservist are being discharged or not sent to boot camp. Those legally in the United States might be deported when their VISA expires.
In 2002, President George W. Bush expedited the naturalization process for immigrant soldiers. In 2007, the program known as MAVNI (Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest) became an official recruiting program. President Barack Obama added DACA recipients to the eligibility list. That is when an official introduced extensive background checks, creating a severe backlog.
Paul Chelimo, a Kenyan-born American athlete who won Silver in the 5,000 meters at the 2016 Rio Olympics, secured US citizenship in 2014 after entering the US Army through the MAVNI progam.
In June 2017, an internal memo sent to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis cited that 1,000 recruits were awaiting active-duty training and were at risk for deportation. Although the special program was by Executive Order of President G.W. Bush, the Trump Administration suspended MAVNI in September 2017 saying it was not properly authorized by Congress.
This is not exactly factual. While Trump believes his cancellation of MAVNI is right because Congress passed no Bill approving it, an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act was proposed to continue MAVNI.
On September 12, 2017, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), vice chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) filed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to retain military personnel in the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest program until their background screenings are completed. Because of a backlog in the screening process, it is estimated that between 1,000 and 1,800 MAVNI recruits have lost their legal immigration status while awaiting their results. The Amendments passed the Senate. I just tweeted to Senators Harris and Durbin requesting the status. If they respond, I’ll update it here or in the comment section below.
USA Today reports:
“It was my dream to serve in the military,” said reservist Lucas Calixto, a Brazilian immigrant who filed a lawsuit against the Army last week. “Since this country has been so good to me, I thought it was the least I could do to give back to my adopted country and serve in the United States military.”
Lucas Calixto learned he was being discharged soon after he was promoted to private second class.
“The Associated Press was unable to quantify how many men and women who enlisted through the special recruitment program have been booted from the Army, but immigration attorneys say they know of more than 40 who have been discharged or whose status has become questionable, jeopardizing their futures.”
According to the Department of Defense, approximately 110,000 members of the Armed Forces have gained citizenship by serving in the U.S. military since September 11, 2001 of which approximately 11,000 were recruited through the MAVNI program since its implementation.
“Margaret Stock, an Alaska-based immigration attorney and a retired Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who helped create the immigrant recruitment program, said she’s been inundated over the past several days by recruits who have been abruptly discharged.”
An immigrant originally from Pakistan who was interviewed by the Associated Press asked that his name be withheld. If he is forced to return to Pakistan, he could face danger because he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
In a statement, the Defense Department said: “All service members (i.e. contracted recruits, active duty, Guard and Reserve) and those with an honorable discharge are protected from deportation.”
However, immigration attorneys told the AP that many immigrants let go in recent weeks were an “uncharacterized discharge,” neither dishonorable nor honorable.
Those being discharged are reservists, and recruits waiting in limbo. If given an explanation, it is that they are security risks because of having relatives in other countries, or because the Department of Defense has not completed background checks.
That’s the story we are given today. It’s not the same reason published last year. In September 2017, the Army Times reported that MAVNI contracts were ended so recruiters could focus on individuals who could potentially move more quickly through the time-intensive enlistment process. The article also reports the push-back about the report where reasons were inconsistent.
As A Senator, Jeff Sessions Was Opposed to Legal Immigrants Enlisting In The Armed Forces
On January 10, during Jeff Sessions confirmation hearing Dick Durbin, U.S. Senator for Illinois, stated;
“Sen. Sessions, since joining the Senate in 1997, you’ve voted against every immigration bill that included a path to citizenship for the undocumented.”
“You described the DREAM Act, which I introduced 15 years ago to spare children who are undocumented through no fault of their own, as ‘a reckless proposal for mass amnesty.’ You opposed the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, which passed the Senate four years ago.”
“You’ve objected to immigrants volunteering to serve in our armed forces, saying, ‘In terms of who’s going to be most likely to be a spy, somebody from Cullman, Ala., or somebody from Kenya?”
In his opposition to allowing legal immigrants to enlist in the U.S. military and given a path to citizenship, in a 2014 interview on the Lars Larson Show, then Senator Sesssions brought up a news story about a “native of Kenya” who had been accused of demanding $50,000 from a local family to protect them from a hitman. The man was serving in the Navy and Sessions questioned how he had been able to get in. (The Kenyan man was found not guilty of the extortion charge in 2015.)
Posted on 07/06/2018, in politics and tagged Armed Forces, Army, citizenship, discharge, Donald Trump, immigration, Jeff Sessions, MAVNI, National Defense Authorization Act, Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Kamala Harris. Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.