Joaquín Castro Presses Defense Secretary on Foreign-Born Recruits Being Terminated from Military
Congressman Joaquín Castro (D-TX), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and First Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, requested more information from Defense Secretary James Mattis regarding recent reports that the military is discharging immigrant reservists and recruits who enrolled under the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program. The NYT recently reported that a growing number of foreign-born recruits who joined the U.S. military through the MAVNI program are being terminated before they can qualify for citizenship. Lawyers for the recruits say at least 40 have been discharged in recent weeks and thousands more are stuck in limbo -- currently enlisted but unable to serve -- and may also be forced out. “It is concerning that the military would discharge these individuals, seemingly without explanation, and subject them to deportation,” Castro said. “Oftentimes, these recruits wait years before they are cleared for basic training due to enhanced security screenings. These long wait periods subject them to expired visas, leaving their futures in the balance.” More than 10,000 troops have joined the military through the program — almost all of them in the Army. MAVNI was an entry point for personnel with critical language or medical skills who were in the U.S. temporarily, such as through student visas, or here seeking asylum. Most of its participants came from overseas -- Africa, Southwest Asia, China, India, and Eastern Europe -- places where the U.S. had a need for those language skills. Most did not come from Latin America or Mexico. See Castro’s letter to Mattis here.