In one way he was more fortunate than the others who have suffered the same fate: The student is one of the few who has find the official reason for his dismissal in black and white, in the documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act application. Most are simply being told by recruiters that they have failed the gantlet of background checks that have gotten increasingly strict in the past two years .
The MAVNI program was shut down in late 2016, during the waning days of the Obama administration, because it was deemed “vulnerable to an unacceptable level of hazard from insider threats such as espionage, terrorism, and other criminal activity.” Pentagon officials described several major “hair-raising” issues that were discovered in the process, arguing that the discharges are not about purging immigrant recruits from the military’s ranks — the vast majority of whom are from Africa and Asia — but about security red flags .
“Department of Defense and Army policy require all recruits to undergo a suitability review as part of the military accessions process, ” Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Nina Hill said. “One aspect of the suitability review is a security screening. Any recruit, to include those recruited through the MAVNI program, who receives an unfavorable security screening is deemed unsuitable for military service and is administratively discharged.”
Margaret Stock, a founder of the program as well as a retired lieutenant colonel and immigration lawyer, accuses the “incompetent bureaucrats” in the Pentagon of destroying a formidable talent pond and taking advantage of an anti-immigrant climate to create an impossibly high bar for foreign recruits to join the Army and set themselves on a path to citizenship .
‘Fear of foreigners’
“It’s a fear of foreigners. It’s a couple of bureaucrat at the Pentagon who don’t want foreigners in their ranks, ” Stock told CNN. “People at the Pentagon who suppose[ the Army is] a jobs program for poor Americans.”
The new “extreme vetting” background checks have created what Stock tells is a decade-long backlog of nominees. But rather than admit they don’t have the resources to process everyone, she says, the Army is getting rid of the recruits .
Little of this stems directly from the Trump administration and its harsh policies on immigration. Stock points to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. One new regulation from Secretary of Defense James Mattis is that in order to get expedited citizenship, one most serve for 180 days. Of course, the number of those even getting to boot camp has dried up in the wake of the stricter background checks .
“It’s collapse. They took a system that was working fine and they violated it, ” said Stock. “More hurdles and not money any of the obstacles. True national security means welcoming immigrants who are going to help our national security.”
CORRECTION: The images accompanying this story have been updated to show members of the US Army.
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