Every time the Trump administration advances its immigration agenda, chaos seems to follow, and the sudden cancellation of hundreds of contracts made between the U.S. military and skilled immigration recruits is no different. Motivated by financial pressure, a staggering workload, and the current climate on immigration, U.S. Army recruiters are dumping immigrant recruits who signed up for military service in part to fast-track their citizenship. Some waited for years to serve, and many are now facing deportation.
“It’s a dumpster fire ruining people’s lives,” said Margaret Stock, who was instrumental in starting the Army’s immigrant recruitment program. “The magnitude of incompetence is beyond belief. We have a war going on. We need these people.”
The recruits participating in the Military Accessions to Vital National Interest (MAVNI) program haven’t had much warning. Some were sent text messages inquiring whether they were still interested in enlisting but were given only ten minutes to respond. Others were told, in a terrible Catch 22, that their enlistment was declined because of their immigration status.
This throws many of the MAVNI recruits into national limbo, too. About 1,000 recruits have been waiting so long to enlist that their legal status has expired without much time to try to restart the citizenship process through other channels. Others find themselves illegal in the United States but disqualified from going home because of their attempts to enlist in the U.S. military. One recruit who might be deported to Indonesia, where she is now no longer a citizen, said she feels “devastated. The Army was my only hope.”
The MAVNI recruits do have some friends on Capitol Hill, however. Senators Kamala Harris and Richard J. Durvin are pushing to amend a defense authorization bill that would buy those on the MAVNI wait list some time. Harris tweeted her support, declaring that “These brave men & women enlisted & the Administration turns its back on them. We must pass Sen. Durbin’s & my bill to protect these recruits.”
(Via the Washington Post)