Authored by: Matt Palumbo
“Some immigrant U.S. Army Reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with a promised path to citizenship are being abruptly discharged,” opened an alleged bombshell report from the Associated Press this week.
You can guess the angle of the article; that its the Trump Administration’s rhetoric on illegal immigration that’s somehow responsible for immigrant recruits being silently discharged to avoid giving them citizenship. “MAVNI” is the program that grants expedited citizenship to non-citizens.
The Associated Press wasn’t able to quantify how many people who enlisted through MAVNI were kicked from the army, but they write “immigration attorneys say they know of more than 40 who have been discharged or whose status has become questionable, jeopardizing their futures.”
Here’s a sampling of the liberal hysteria in response to the report:
So what the heck is going on? Is the Army kicking would-be immigrants out to prevent them from earning citizenship?
No – of course not.
Not surprisingly, the Associated Press has the story wrong. While everyone seems to have the impression that the immigrants in question are active duty, the AP article is actually about immigrants that have enlisted in the Army – but have not gone to basic training yet. Such a mistaken impression can be forgiven, as no liberals read past the headline in the Trump-era anyway.
Now, there are countless reasons one could enlist but then be discharged before basic training (such as health reasons, gaining too much weight, failing to pass a background check, etc.). The overwhelming number of people discharged are not immigrants.
So, the AP has failed to do two things; prove that these discharges are due to immigration status, and prove that there’s a change in policy under the Trump administration that’s causing the problem they can’t prove exists. According to national security commenter John Noonan, the problem here has more to do with how Army background checks work than any anti-immigrant policies.
There are still 1,100 people accepted into the MAVNI program that have not started basic training, pending completion of a background check, and many have been in limbo for years, according to the Pentagon. And when did the Army further strengthen background checks for those part of the MAVNI program? During the Obama Administration (is this even surprising anymore?).
According to the military publication Stars and Stripes:
Since 2009, more than 10,000 MAVNI soldiers were recruited because their backgrounds and talents, particularly their language or medical skills and their cultural knowledge filled a critical need for the Army. In exchange, they were offered a promise of professional advancement and a fast track to citizenship. But growing national security concerns led the Defense Department in fall 2016 to institute enhanced security screenings for these foreigners, casting a shadow of suspicion on the group and creating a backlog. MAVNI soldiers who were recruited in the months leading up to that time were stuck waiting for the completion of security checks at whatever stage of entry they’d reached.
The root cause of the problem comes from Obama opening up MAVNI to those protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). According to Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Margaret Stock, who created the MAVNI program, “DACA sounded the death knell for the program, Stock said, because MAVNI was never intended as way to address the political hot potato of citizenship for undocumented long-term residents.” Rather, MAVNI was created to attract recruits who speak languages that are of strategic use to the armed forces, such as Chinese, Dari, Farsi, and Russian (with a path to citizenship as a reward).
MAVNI was never intended to be a loophole to obtain citizenship. The program was expanded far beyond its original scope, and eventually collapsed under its own bureaucracy in 2016 thanks to Obama, and is closed to new applicants.
So, what does this have to do with Trump again?