DACA/DREAM Frontera Fund News

MAVNI: They Want to Serve the Country but Their Contracts Got Cancelled

Written by Carmen Cornejo

As we reported previously on Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund, young immigrants who want to serve in the U.S. armed forces through a narrow program called MAVNI are not getting the support you would expect they deserve.

The Pentagon has decided to abruptly cancel hundreds of already signed enlistment contracts involving young immigrants serving under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program. This program allows young immigrants to enroll if they have special abilities important for national security such as fluency in a language or dialect of geopolitical importance, or specific medical training.

Ending those contracts puts many of these foreign-born individuals in danger of deportation.

After suffering through months of delays in the processing of paperwork that would allow them to fully participate in the military, slowed down by layer upon layer of background checks, immigrants found that the Pentagon has brought the program to a standstill.

A limited number of DREAMers also enrolled in the program, seeing it as an opportunity for fast track protection and legalization.

It is not clear whether the Pentagon is scrapping or postponing the program, as a mirror response to the announcement that DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) would be eliminated.

In any case, recruits are experiencing sadness and disappointment.

According to some observers, the program halt is a response to an onerous enlistment process that includes extensive background investigations. This is due to the emphasis the Trump administration has put on pushing all foreign-born individuals through a ridiculously extensive vetting process that veers into racism.

In contrast, American citizens’ fitness to serve in the armed forces is seldom questioned, even though they may be guilty of anti-American allegiances and conduct. Take the case of Guillaume Cuvelier, 29, who has a well-documented history of espousing extreme right-wing views and holding previous alliances with Russian-backed militants in Ukraine.

Cuvelier’s ability to join the Army raises questions about the recruitment process and whether citizen applicants are thoroughly screened before they are able to enlist, in contrast to the exhaustive vetting process for people of color.

“Immigrant recruits are already screened far more than any other recruits we have,” Naomi Verdugo, a former senior recruiting official for the Army at the Pentagon, told The Washington Post.

As expected, recruits’ allies have filed litigation against the Department of Defense’s discriminatory practices with the lawsuit Kirwa v. DoD.