Army Officials Are Discharging Immigrants

By Kenrya Rankin Jul 06, 2018

A new report from The Associated Press says that some immigrants who enlisted with the United States Army after being promised a path to American citizenship have been discharged from service.

From the July 5 article:


The AP was unable to quantify how many men and women who enlisted through the special recruitment program have been booted from the Army, but immigration attorneys say they know of more than 40 who have been discharged or whose status has become questionable, jeopardizing their futures.

More than 5,000 immigrants were reportedly recruited into the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program in 2016, and about 10,000 are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, mostly with the Army and Army Reserve. Stars and Stripes reports that recruitment was halted in 2016, and the program was deauthorized in September 2017.

To be naturalized as citizens, recruits need to earn an honorable service designation. The AP reports that many of the discharged services members were prevented from attending basic training, which qualifies as enough service to gain that distinction.

Some of the service members say that Army officials did not give them an explanation for their discharge, while others were told that their relatives abroad or incomplete background checks made them a security risk. Pentagon and Army spokespeople told The AP that they could not provide more information due to pending litigation.

That litigation includes a suit filed last week by Brazilian-native Army reservist Lucas Calixto against the Department of Defense, which said he was discharged on the grounds of “personnel security.”

“Since this country has been so good to me, I thought it was the least I could do to give back to my adopted country and serve in the United States military,” said Calixto, who arrived in the United States when he was 12. “Now the great feeling I had when I enlisted is going down the drain. I don’t understand why this is happening.” Calixto filed another suit in 2017 with several other immigrant service members alleging that the government was delaying the processing of their naturalization applications.

Margaret Stock, an immigration attorney and a retired Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who helped create the migrant recruitment program, is also upset about the abrupt discharges.

“Immigrants have been serving in the Army since 1775,” Stock told The AP. “We wouldn’t have won the revolution without immigrants. And we’re not going to win the global war on terrorism today without immigrants.”