The Pentagon announced recently that it is considering ways in which to expand its ability to recruit beyond lawful permanent residents (“LPRs”) and U.S. citizens. Typically, enlistment is only open to LPRs and citizens. However, the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (“MAVNI”) program allows the Department of Defense to enlist other individuals when doing so is in the national interest. Traditionally, this has only been applied to those with key medical or language skills; however, the Department is currently reviewing the program to see if it could be used to expand its recruitment pool.
A related defense bill that would have allowed the military to enlist “dreamers”—young undocumented immigrants eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”)—was stalled by Republicans in the House last week. This is not surprising, given the state of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, which would have accomplished similar goals.
The Department is also reviewing a policy that prohibits the Navy and Marine Corps from enlisting individuals who are married to undocumented immigrants. The concern here has traditionally been the inability to conduct a thorough background check in such cases; however, the Department is working with immigration officials to determine if this concern can be resolved some other way.