As we recently reported, the Pentagon has been attempting to expand its ability to recruit beyond lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and U.S. citizens by enlisting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. In an announcement on May 30, the Obama Administration announced that certain DACA recipients would be eligible to enlist under the Military Accession Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program. Consistent with previous MAVNI policy, such a person would have to have certain language skills and be a doctor or nurse.
However, just a few days later, it was reported that the plan was delayed to “avoid any conflict with House Republicans considering whether to move on immigration legislation.” It is unclear what exactly this means both for the plan’s future as well as it’s reason for being delayed. It has been speculated that the delay is really due to the plan’s impracticality. Enlisting under MAVNI requires a special background investigation to give people security clearances. A person is generally unable to obtain such clearances if the investigation reveals that he or she has undocumented relatives. DACA recipients typically have undocumented relatives who brought them into the U.S. at a young age, which is part of what makes them eligible for DACA in the first place. This makes passing the background check under MAVNI nearly impossible for many DACA recipients. Even if a DACA recipient was not brought to the U.S. by an undocumented immigrant, it is rare if not impossible that such a person, as an undocumented immigrant by definition, does not have similarly situated family.