More than 500 immigrant enlistees were discharged from the U.S. Army over the course of a year beginning in 2017, NBC News reported Thursday, after they had been recruited for their language or medicals skills and promised a fast track to citizenship.
> The decade-old Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest recruiting program was put on hold in 2016 amid concerns that immigrant recruits were not being screened sufficiently. The Army began booting out those enlistees last year without explanation.
> The [Associated Press] has interviewed more than a dozen recruits from countries such as Brazil, Pakistan, Iran, China and Mongolia who all said they were devastated by their unexpected discharges or canceled contracts.
> Until now, it's been unclear how many were discharged and for what reason because the Army has refused to discuss specific cases. But the Army's own list, submitted to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last month, says 502 service members who enlisted under MAVNI were discharged between July 2017 and July 2018.
For two-thirds of the recruits, the reasons for discharge was listed as “refuse to enlist”, which NBC News noted is the reason given for 35 percent of enlistee discharges Army-wide.
However, Badamsereejid Gansukh — whose discharge was listed as such — said it was not accurate.
> Gansukh, whose recruiter told him his Turkish language skills would be an asset to the military, said he didn't know he was discharged at all until he asked his congressman's office this summer to help him figure out why his security screening was taking so long.
> "I never said I refuse to enlist, not at all," Gansukh said. In fact, he said, he had opted in for another year after getting a call from his recruiter.
Another 22 percent of the immigrants were informed their entry-level performance was and conduct was subpar, which could include being injured, according to the Pentagon.
> Ten percent — or 48 service members — were listed as being discharged because of an unfavorable security screening. This can include having family members in another country — which is typical for immigrants — or the military not completing all of the screenings in a reasonable period.
> There were three discharges for apathy or personal problems, two for having an encounter with police after enlisting, one due to pregnancy and another citing education, which could indicate a university opportunity.
> Two "declined to ship" to boot camp, the list said, and two enlistees were discharged with the explanation "unknown," which the Defense Department said it could not explain.
After discharges began piling up, some people filing lawsuits.
> In response to the litigation, the Army stopped processing discharges last month and reinstated at least three dozen recruits who had been thrown out of the service.
> Eligible recruits are required to have legal status in the U.S., such as a student visa, before enlisting. More than 5,000 immigrants were recruited into the program in 2016, and an estimated 10,000 are currently serving. The vast majority go into the Army, but some also go to the other military branches.