Friday, 22 March, 2019

APNewsBreak: US Army quietly discharging immigrant recruits

Some legal immigrants are reportedly being discharged from the U.S. Army putting their legal status in jeopardy APNewsBreak: US Army quietly discharging immigrant recruits
Patty Aguilar | 08 July, 2018, 05:43

The U.S. Army has begun discharging some immigrants who enlisted in the military with promises that their service would lead to U.S. citizenship, according to a report Thursday in The Associated Press.

Spokespeople for the Pentagon and the Army told AP that due to pending litigation, they were unable to provide an explanation for the alleged discharges.

Last week Lucas Calixto, a Brazilian reservist who came to the US when he was 12, filed a lawsuit against the Army, alleging that he was offered no reason for his discharge aside from "personnel security", and given no chance to defend himself.

Although the exact number is unclear, immigration attorneys told the AP that they know of at least 40 instances of immigrants being discharged or their status being changed.

Recruits must have legal status in the USA before enlisting in the Army.

The AP noted that about 10,000 people are now serving under the program and that, in order to gain citizenship, enlistees must be honorably discharged. President Barack Obama extended the program to allow young immigrants who entered the USA illegally under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA policy to participate. The military responded with more security checks, and the Trump administration added to those, creating a backlog. Many were recruited to fill posts requiring medical expertise, including Army Reserve dentists, or specific language skills, including Russian and Mandarin Chinese, according to The Washington Post.

Republican Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland, who has supported legislation to limit the program, told the AP that MAVNI was established by executive order and never properly authorized by Congress.

Immigrants must have legal status to enroll in the military, but now some fear that in addition to losing their military career they could lose their immigration status.

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Some of the service members told the Associated Press their discharges were left unexplained.

"In exchange for putting their lives on the line for our freedom, immigrants-legal immigrants that we have welcomed into our country have always been able to earn their citizenship". "I was devastated because I love the USA and was so honored to be able to serve this great country".

Calixto enlisted in the Army Reserve in early 2016 and has not been subject to any discipline or complaints, according to the complaint.

Many service members recruited through the program have proven to be exemplary. A RAND Corp. study found that these recruits were generally more cost-effective than their native-born peers.

As of April, 1,100 immigrant recruits were awaiting basic training while undergoing security reviews, the Pentagon said.

"One person has a girlfriend who's a foreigner, he's known her since she was a little kid, they're engaged, she sends him gifts", Stock said.

"I have always been a good soldier and have always done what they ask me to do", she said. I don't want to give up because I genuinely like being in the Army.

In recent years, a group of attorneys have been fighting to keep their recruited immigrant clients eligible for naturalization as delays have mounted.

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