Washington, DC – Today, Muslim Advocates filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request urging the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of the Army, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to release detailed information concerning the U.S. Army’s discharge of immigrant recruits, who were enlisted under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program. The FOIA request comes after several days of media scrutiny on the military’s recent discharging of immigrant soldiers.
The MAVNI program, created in 2008, is a special U.S. military recruiting program that allows certain immigrants with “critical skills”—such as physicians and individuals with particular linguistic and/or cultural expertise—to “join the U.S. military and apply immediately for U.S. citizenship…without first obtaining lawful permanent residence.” Since 2009, more than 10,000 individuals have been recruited into the U.S. military through the MAVNI program.
“The administration’s actions appear to be part of a broader pattern of attacking immigrants in every available scenario. Pursuing a policy that blindsides, betrays, and discharges those willing to pay the ultimate price for our country illustrates the extreme lengths this administration will take to harass and marginalize immigrants. The American people deserve the facts about what exactly is going on here – not the administration’s spin,” according to Sirine Shebaya, senior staff attorney for Muslim Advocates.
The Trump administration suspended the MAVNI program. First, in September 2017, U.S. Army recruiters canceled enlistment contracts for hundreds of MAVNI recruits—a step that “upend[ed] their lives and potentially expos[ed] many to deportation,” according to the Washington Post. Shortly thereafter, in October 2017, the Pentagon reportedly allowed the recruitment program itself to lapse into disuse.
Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.