The #Pentagon is considering a plan to cancel enlistment contracts for 1,000 foreign-born recruits without legal immigration status, knowingly exposing them to deportation, a Defense Department memo shows.
The undated action memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Jim #Mattis by personnel and intelligence officials at the Pentagon and obtained by The Washington Post, describes potential security threats of immigrants recruited in a program designed to award fast-tracked citizenship in exchange for urgently needed medical and language skills.
Additionally, 4,100 troops — most of whom are naturalized citizens — may face “enhanced screening,” though the Pentagon voiced concern on how to navigate “significant legal constraints” of “continuous monitoring” of citizens without cause, according to the memo.
Officials have assigned threat level tiers to the nearly 10,000 Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program recruits, both in the service and waiting to serve, based on characteristics like proximity to classified information or how thoroughly they have been vetted.
The Defense Department launched the program in 2009. Since the program’s start, more than 10,400 troops, most of them with service in the Army, have filled medical billets and language specialties — like Russian, Mandarin Chinese and Pashto — languages identified by the Pentagon as vital to the success of military operations, but in short supply among U.S.-born troops.
Last year, officials heightened security screenings specifically for MAVNI recruits, diverting “already constrained Army fiscal and manpower resources,” the memo said.
The overtasked vetting process and heightened security risk led officials to recommend canceling enlistment contracts for all 1,800 awaiting orders for basic training, and halting the program altogether, according to the memo.