Valuable Foreign Nationals Here On Temporary Visas Threatened
According to ABC News reports, the administration’s immigration policies are now interfering with a decade-old program—the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program—that has allowed people with critical language or medical skills to join the military and become U.S. citizens. In fact, not only are they hindering the program, but, in some circumstances, they have also lead to a number of foreign nationals – who are legally here as part of the program – being targeted for deportation.
According to Homeland Security officials, in spite of past policies, the government is unable to protect new immigrant recruits from being deported once that they temporary visas expired, even if they had signed contracts to join the military. Because of this decision, the entire program has been placed on hold.
In its 2019 defense bill, Congress also addressed the issue by including restrictions that limited each military service to no more than 1,000 such recruits each year.
Departure from Previous Treatment
In 2016, the Defense Department suspended the MAVNI program, concluding that it opened the country up to an unacceptable amount of risk from potential criminal activity, espionage, and terrorism. Since this time, hundreds of immigrants have been stalled in the intake process, some waiting over a year to get through it. In addition, a number of recruits had their contracts canceled or were discharged because the background checks were taking so long, leading to a number of lawsuits being filed. Officials estimate that the delays are likely due to the additional, complicated security checks recently being implemented.
Although Homeland Security has indicated that it would not be able to sign any agreement to block the deportation of immigrant recruits brought in under the program, in previous years, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services did provide an informal process so that MAVNI recruits had protection when their temporary visas expired – precisely because they were entering the military. Just within the last 10 years, the military services recruited more than 10,000 foreign nationals through the program.
What the Country Misses Out On By Excluding & Targeting These Individuals
As a result of the program’s halt, some—including the current Defense Security—are concerned that the U.S. will miss out on the crucial cultural knowledge, key skills, and language abilities these foreign nationals/noncitizens often bring to the U.S. military.
Contact Our North Carolina Immigrant Defense Attorneys Today
If you are here on a temporary visa because you provide the U.S. military or another entity a particular skill and are facing any related immigration or criminal defense issue— or your immigration status has been stalled even though you were screened and approved—contact our experienced immigration and criminal defense attorneys at Dysart Willis. We serve Franklin, Granville, Vance, Warren, and surrounding counties of North Carolina.