US Immigrants who were promised citizenship by the US military are being discharged without explanation, according to an AP report. Those being discharged enrolled as part of the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program (MAVNI) started during the George W. Bush administration as the Iraqi war peaked and the military was in need of immigrants with special skills like fluency in foreign languages. It offered expedited naturalization for those with the special skills.
President Obama expanded MAVNI eligibility to DACA recipients which immediately drew fire from conservatives. 5,000 immigrants were recruited into the program in 2016 as Obama prepared to leave office and there is more than 10,000 immigrants currently serving in the US armed forces, many joining through the MAVNI program.
The AP report said it was aware of as many as 40 enlistees being discharged recently but observers believe there could be more.
Following the discharge, some of the discharged recruits have filed lawsuits challenging the military’s action. As a result, the military is not commenting on the matter citing the pending litigation, but the Defense Department said the following in a statement: “All service members (i.e. contracted recruits, active duty, Guard and Reserve) and those with an honorable discharge are protected from deportation.”
The Defense Department’s statement did not however comment on what is described by lawyers representing the litigants as an “uncharacterized discharge”, which is neither dishonorable nor honorable. Those who serve in the military can obtain citizenship only if they receive an honorable discharge.
The unusual discharges by the military come in the wake of president Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy where those caught entering the US illegally face prosecution, a policy whose on the ground implementation at the border with Mexico has sparked a national outcry as toddlers were being separated from their mothers trying to enter the US.
The discharges have drawn widespread criticism including from former Republican presidential candidate, Governor John Kasich of Ohio who called the Trump administration’s actions “yet another low.”
“America has the most powerful military in the world and since our nation’s founding we have welcomed immigrants into its ranks,” Kasich wrote in a statement published online on Thursday.
“In exchange for putting their lives on the line for our freedom, immigrants—legal immigrants that we have welcomed into our country have long been able to earn their citizenship. In the process, we have boosted our military’s ranks and defended our values,” he continued.
“Breaking faith with these members of our Armed Forces as this White House has decided to is yet another low,” Kasich said, adding: “This decision must be reversed now, for the sake of our military, to show that America keeps its word and to uphold the very values we claim to stand for.”
About Tom Gitaa Gitaa
Born and raised in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, Tom is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Mshale which has been reporting on the news and culture of African immigrants in the United States since 1995. He has a BA in Business from Metro State University and a Public Leadership Credential from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He was the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the Dish Network satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states. Tom has served and chaired various boards including Global Minnesota (formerly Minnesota International Center), the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has previously served as the first Black President of the Board of Directors at Books for Africa. He also serves on the boards of New Vision Foundation and the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium. He has previously served two terms on the board of the United Nations Association. An avid runner, he retired from running full marathons after turning 50 and now only focuses on training for half marathons.
- Web |
- More Posts(68)