While there are rumblings of another fight in Congress over illegal immigrants serving in the U.S. military, the Army has already accepted nearly 50 illegal immigrants into its ranks, according to a new report.
Retired Lt. Col. Margaret Stock tells The Hill that since the beginning of this year, the Army has enlisted 46 illegal immigrants granted executive amnesty — via President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) — into its ranks and that there are thousands more who hope to join.
According to The Hill, Stock helped to create the program Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MANVI), that allows certain foreign nationals with specific medical or language skills the ability to enlist and be placed on a path to “expedited citizenship.”
Indeed, current Army eligibility requirements for the MANVI program list DACA as a qualification.
Applicants must be in one of the following categories at the time of their enlistment:
*Non-immigrant categories E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U OR V
*Asylee, refugee, Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
*Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
The move to allow illegal immigrants granted DACA serve in the military occurred last year, when the Pentagon announced in September that it would be opening the MANVI program up to such applicants. The DACA opening hit a snag early on due to paperwork and screening issues.
The Hill reports that in an interview Stock explained that the MANVI program recently was doubled from 1,500 enlistees annually to 3,000 and would expand to 5,000 enlistees by October.
“Otherwise none of them would have been able to sign contracts because there were no spaces left,” Stock said.
The revelation comes as Congress is on the precipice of debating a defense authorization bill (NDAA) that has an amendment urging the Secretary of Defense to declare DACA recipients as “vital” to the nation’s security interests and make them eligible for military service.
Earlier this week a group of 25 House Republicans urged the House Rules Committee to strip the amendment from the must-pass legislation, warning it could scuttle the bill, as three times already the House has voted to defund DACA.
“Especially in this time of increased terrorism, our national security should not be threatened by allowing such controversial language on a program we have rejected three times as unconstitutional,” the 25, led by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), wrote.