The Department of Defense (DOD) is denying an Associated Press report that says immigrant soldiers who have enlisted in a program that can lead to citizenship status are being systematically ousted from the military, according to the online military publication Task & Purpose.
The July 5 article, which has received a great deal of attention on social media, implied that the action is being taken because of the Trump administration's crackdown on illegal immigrants. The article centers on immigrant recruits attempting to enter the military through the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program.
That program was launched in 2008 to attract more recruits with critical skills such as doctors, nurses, and those who speak strategically valuable languages like Chinese, Dari, Farsi, and Russian by offering them an expedited path to citizenship. Service members who’ve enlisted through the MAVNI program represent only a small percentage of immigrants in the military, the vast majority of whom joined through the same channels as their U.S.-born counterparts, according to the Task & Purpose article.
The publication said, "While the AP did report accurately that many recruits have been cut from the program in recent months, the Pentagon insists that the numbers reflect nothing unusual. Indeed, two Army recruiters who spoke to Task & Purpose on the condition of anonymity rejected the notion that the military was deliberately and purposefully ridding itself of non-U.S. citizens —as did a Nigerian immigrant who has been enrolled the MAVNI program for more than two years. 'I think the journalist just didn’t understand how MAVNI works,' she opined."
My nephew, Brandon Peters, recently retired after more than 20 years in the U.S. Army that included two tours in Afghanistan and two in Iraq and one year in Korea, had some personal experience with this program during his career.
While he's a loyal (misguided) supporter of President Trump, Brandon is as trustworthy as any human being on the planet. "I'm telling you, unc, the military is not deporting soldiers who are citizens," he responded on Facebook after I shared that original AP story.
"You have a certain time and certain criteria during your enlistment to meet to become U.S. citizens when you join as an immigrant," Brandon explained. "If you ETS or get discharged before doing either, yes you will be flown back to your native country. IT IS NOT A GUARANTEE to become a citizen just because you join. Never has been."
Referring to the Marine who commented on Twitter about two immigrant soldiers who faced deportation, Brandon said, "If this guy and others have become citizens they arn't getting deported. If he isn't a citizen, yup, sorry but you had your chance to become a citizen. I helped around 100 soldiers get their citizenship and also saw others go right back to their native country because they were either too lazy to meet the criteria or got in trouble and got booted. The military swears in thousands of immigrants every month."
Brandon provided this link from DOD, which explains the program in detail.
"See, it really isn't hard," he said. "Probably the easiest way to become a citizen."
Thanks for the clarification, Brandon. Let's hope this program isn't scrapped by the administration.