Due to the Trump Administration’s hardline tactics and policies regarding immigration, the Pentagon’s plans to restart a program that allowed those who are skilled in medicine, Asian, and African languages to join the military and become citizens has been sullied.
The ten-year-old program had been on hold since 2016 because of concerns from the Trump Administration that recruits were not being screened thoroughly enough and there was potential for security threats. The defense department made the vetting process stricter and expected to relaunch the program.
But, Homeland Security officials said that these new immigrant recruits are not going to be protected from deportation when their temporary visas expire after signing contracts to join the U.S. military.
The Pentagon program is called MAVNI, Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest Program. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wanted to restart the program, arguing that noncitizens play an imperative role in security and can bring vital skills such as language abilities and cultural knowledge.
Defense Secretary Mattis is a combat veteran who fought side by side with foreign nationals and also commanded them. Mattis told reporters, “We need and want every qualified patriot willing to serve and able to serve.”
Spokeswoman for the Pentagon, Air Force Major Carla Gleason, said, “The unique skill sets these individuals bring is one of the reasos the U.S. military is the world’s premier fighting force.”
In Congress’s 2019 defense bill, new restrictions have been added to the MAVNI recruit program, making it so that each military service is capped at 1,000 of these recruits per year.
Gleason said that the Defense Department halted the 2016 program when assessments concluded the program was “vulnerable to an unacceptable level of risk from insider threats such as espionage, terrorism, and other criminal activity.”
The MAVNI program looks thoroughly for recruits with skills in Korean, Chinese Mandarin, Nepalese, Hindi, Swahili, etc.
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