Skip to main content

After Backlash, the Army Suspends the Discharge of Immigrant Recruits

After news broke in July that the United States Army was quietly discharging immigrant recruits, high-ranking military officials have circulated a memo ordering a halt to the discharges.

The memo, obtained the Associated Press, reads, "Effective immediately, you will suspend processing of all involuntary separation actions." It was signed by by Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Marshall Williams, and dated July 20th.

After 9/11, President George W. Bush ordered expedited citizenship for immigrant soldiers in an effort to boost military enrollment. That order turned into the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, an enlistment initiative that immigrants could enroll in with the promise of naturalization.

In the last month, the army has faced backlash after it suspended the MAVNI program and began discharging immigrants who had enlisted. At least 40 members of the program were discharged. Many of them were given an "uncharacterized discharge," putting their future legal status in question.

In response to U.S. Army veterans facing the threat of deportation, Representative Pete Aguilar (D-California) introduced legislation on July 25th that could prevent the Trump administration from deporting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients who served in the military. The legislation is an amendment to a Department of Homeland Security funding bill that has not yet been voted on.