The Pentagon is apparently seeking to dismantle the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, which has allowed foreign-born visa holders, those who sought asylum, and refugees in the United States to be put on an inclusive fast track for citizenship in return for their service.
Military Defense officials sent a letter to the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis stating that "The potential threat posed by individuals who may have a higher risk of connections to Foreign Intelligence Services gives the possibility that the program could be essentially risky to national security interests.”
As of the year 2016, 511,000 veterans who are immigrants now live in the United States, which makes up approximately 3 percent of the total veteran population. About 82 percent of previously served immigrant veterans, close to 417,000 are now naturalized U.S. citizens after their service.
Pentagon officials also allegedly stated that they do not have enough background information about incoming immigrant applicants to properly vet them to ensure the safety of American forces and vital interests around the globe.
If a revision or termination of the 2009 program were to occur, it could then nullify enlistment contracts for approximately 1,000 of the service members currently enlisted out of the total 10,400 immigrants who were recruited for their specific medical and foreign language skills. Ten percent of the total group of recruits are currently waiting for naturalization for their service.
During the debate on National Security, the Pentagon said the program has been suspended until further review.
Immigrants and their children are increasingly vital resources to military recruitment, serving as soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen. The active-duty military currently contains more than 65,000 immigrants. That's around 5 percent of the force of the United States Armed Services, and noncitizen immigrants also account for 4 percent of all first-term new military recruits.