Army Reinstates Foreign-Born Recruits As It Reviews How To Kick Them Out Again

Bullet Points
U.S. Army photo / Staff Sgt. Matthew Keeler.

The Army has rescinded the discharges of more than 30 soldiers recruited under a now-defunct program that offered citizenship to immigrants with special skills, but this may only be a delay in their eventual separations, a Pentagon official told Task & Purpose.

  • In response to a lawsuit filed by Brazilian immigrant Luis Calixto, whose discharge has been suspended, a Defense Department attorney wrote in court papers that the service has reinstated 32 people to the Delayed Training Program and revoked discharges for six other members of the now defunct Military Accessions Vital to National Interests (MAVNI) program.
  • Discharges for a total of 149 MAVNI recruits are on hold while the Army conducts a review of the separation process, according to the court papers, which were first highlighted by the Associated Press on Tuesday.
  • From 2008 until it was suspended in 2016, the MAVNI program recruited more than 10,000 immigrants with critical skills – such as doctors and nurses – who spoke Russian, Chinese, and other strategically important languages. It was formally ended in 2017 after defense officials determined it was vulnerable to insider threats.
  • The Defense Department refused to confirm any of the numbers cited in the Army’s court filings. Security screening for MAVNI recruits continues, said Air Force Maj. Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
  • So far, background checks have revealed that one MAVNI recruit supported the terrorists who carried out the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and vowed to help China, Gleason said. Others have falsified transcripts or joined the military after receiving bogus visas to attend non-existent universities
  • “If a background investigation reveals information that disqualifies a particular MAVNI recruit from military service, then that recruit, like any other recruit with a similar disqualification, is either released from his or her enlistment contract or is separated from his or her respective service, “ Gleason said in a statement. “Since 2013, more than 20 individuals who accessed via the MAVNI program have become the subjects of DoD and/or FBI counterintelligence and/or criminal investigations.”


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