There is a little known, but long-standing, American policy to give foreigners who enlist in the American military a path to citizenship here. It is not uncommon for foreign enlistees to fill positions that the military cannot adequately fill from the U.S. population. One of the primary roles thus filled is for people fluent in various foreign languages.
However, there are currently 1,000 foreign-born recruits at great risk of being actively screwed over by the Pentagon. It is canceling their contracts under circumstances that puts them at high risk of deportation. An undated action memo indicates the Department of Defense deems these recruits to be potential security threats. This is used as justification for not upholding its end of the bargain. The problem is that the language used is often used to simply mean that someone has close relatives in a foreign country, something that all of these recruits will have by their very nature and which should not be used against them.
They were promised fast-tracked citizenship because they were in a position to provide urgently needed medical or language skills. That promise is being reneged upon with no apparent basis for doing so.
Another 4,100 troops are being targeted for “enhanced screening” and potentially continuous monitoring without cause. Most of these military members are naturalized citizens already.
The Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program has assigned threat level tiers to nearly 10,000 recruits. These tiers are based on things like how well they have been vetted and how much access they have to classified information.
MAVNI was launched in 2009 and has funneled more than 10,400 troops into the American military, most of them in the army. Many of them provide language skills that are difficult to find in the U.S. population, such as Mandarin Chinese, Russian and Pashto. These are generally prioritized due to being identified by the Pentagon as mission critical skills needed to serve various goals.
However, policy changed midstream on just how much screening such candidates would need. Last year, screenings for MAVNI recruits were heightened. This has placed an undue burden on the vetting resources needed for completing the vetting process. This is leaving many recruits in the lurch.
The recruits in question are part of a delayed entry program. About 1,000 of them are in a very vulnerable position because their visas expired while they were awaiting orders. If their contracts are canceled, their now expired visas means they can be deported.
Some critics are calling this a breach of contract on the part of the military and a bad faith decision. They are calling these people “security risks” when the real security risk appears to be trusting the word of the American military when you sign a contract with it.
Because the recruits were dealing with the government, at least one department would have all their pertinent information. This would include phone numbers, addresses and legal status. If the Department of Defense were to share this information with U.S> Immigration and Customs Enforcement, it would put these people at great risk of being deported, even though they haven’t done anything wrong. It is entirely on the shoulders of the U.S. government for dropping the ball in their processing of these recruits.
The way it is being handled is also in violation of Pentagon equal opportunity policies, rooted in U.S. federal law. Discriminating based on race, creed and similar is against the law. The reasons behind this incident amount to discriminating on that basis and not on the basis of qualifications to do the job, even given military security concerns.