A policy adopted by the Department of Defense in 2008 which allows a number of illegal immigrants to serve in the US armed forces for the first time in decades, has been extended by two years.
The program is known as the Military Ascensions Vital to National Interest, or MAVNI, and is open to immigrants who do not hold a proper visa. The caveat though is these individuals had to come to the US with their parents before they were 16. Those eligible must also meet the requirements for the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals policy, which was adopted by the Obama administration in 2012. Requirements range from having no criminal record to have graduated high school or working towards a GED.
When it was adopted, MAVNI was meant to target immigrants who can comprehend and understand foreign languages such as Chinese, Persian, Pashto, and Arabic. However one insider revealed to the Daily Mail, out of the 3 million people who might apply for the military, the administration is unsure how many of those have the language skills to meet the basic requirements.
“We’re just not sure how many within that existing population of DACA would have the linguistic skills to qualify,” said a defense official according to USA Today. “These are kids who entered the country at a fairly young age and have basically grown up in the United States, so the limit of their language talents would probably be the language that they received at home.”
The MAVNI program has only been open to a small number of illegal immigrants, but the cap has been raised to 1,500 recruits, according to the Military Times. The program has one large incentive for illegal immigrants and that is a path to citizenship upon the completion of their service.
One important note though is the military branches are not required to accept MAVNI recruits, and since the program’s inception, many of those who have qualified for the program have been accepted into the Army. The Air Force has accepted a small number of these recruits while the Navy and Marine Corps have not accepted any MAVNI recruits.