Spoke In Immigration

PUBLISHED: 9:17 PM 1 Oct 2018

Trump Immigration Polices Create Issues For Pentagon Foreign Skills Program

The last administration simply ignored issues and refused to enforce existing regulations, but the Trump administration's DHS and DOD are looking to fix the process while maintaining security.

Trump's stronger immigration policies, and his law and order approach to law, have made it difficult for the Pentagon to enlist foreigners with 'special' language skills.

The United States military has long been the dominating military force on the face of the Earth.

However, while the Donald Trump administration and its fiscal policy has helped improve the military already, stricter immigration policies pushed by the president have made it more difficult to restart a program designed to recruit people with critical language skills.

These skills can help the United States military operate in foreign nations, but the program has been on hold since 2016. The halt was, in part, due to the discovery of a spy in the Pentagon’s ‘immigration’-based program.

The Pentagon and the Department of Defense had hoped to restart the program, which had been on hold since 2016, after seeing to concerns.

Namely, those concerns involved fears that immigrants accepted into the program to provide necessary medical or Asian and African language skills and knowledge had unacceptable ties to terrorist groups or foreign governments.

Officials in the DOD worked on the program, and said that they had improved the method by which new recruits were screened, and they even planned to relaunch the program earlier in September.

However, Department of Homeland Security officials pointed out that they would not be able to protect members of the program from deportation when their temporary visas expired after they signed up to join the military, according to officials.

The program, which is called the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, or ‘MAVNI,’ was backed by Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Mattis hoped that the program would allow the United States military to bring in language experts from various nations and locales, as well as medical experts looking to move to the United States and willing to serve in exchange for citizenship assistance.

Although the United States military can train people to speak almost any foreign language, the difficult process can take many months, if not years, of intensive study, and it can often be more cost-effective to simply enlist or commission native speakers of the language.

Mattis, who had fought in multiple wars during his decades of service in the United States Marine Corps, where he reached the rank of General, has led foreign nationals, and seemed to believe that the experience was, generally, a positive one.

In an interview last month, he told reporters that the MAVNI program was designed to bring in enlisted members with essential skills that may be difficult to teach.

He was quoted as saying that the military needed every “qualified patriot” willing and able to serve their country, and that the DOD was looking to quickly solve any security issues with their screening process.

A spokesman for the Pentagon, Air Force Major Carla Gleason, said that those with such skill sets were part of the reason that the United States military was one of the most powerful, strong, and feared in the world.

However, Maj. Gleason had no comment concerning the work behind the scenes to revitalize the program.

In previous years, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service simply used an ‘informal’ process to give MAVNI recruits protection.

When these recruits lost their student status, or their temporary visa, the federal government essentially looked the other way.

However, President Donald Trump’s tougher stance on immigration, according to some, has made it more difficult to retain such enlistees.

When asked about the topic, an official with the Department of Homeland Security said that recruits who were without legal status would, technically, be subject to deportation.

However, the official, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, said that each case was reviewed individually, on its own merits.

In the last decade, 10,000 service members have been gained through the program.

In recent years, though, the program has been mired in controversy due to security and vetting concerns, and the DOD has struggled to come up with a workable background check screening system.

Court documents have shown that more than 20 people in the program have been the subject of counter terrorism investigations, either from the Pentagon or the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Due to changes to immigration policy, coupled with the complexity of some background checks, dozens of recruits were either discharged or had their contracts cancelled, which led to a number of lawsuits.

Interestingly, laws put in place to deal with the constant deluge of illegal immigrants from across the U.S.-Mexico border have ended up hampering recruitment of people who speak languages like Mandarin, Hindi, Swahili, Tagalog, and other rarer languages.

Indeed, MAVNI does not even cover Spanish, because the language is so common in the United States.

While some suggested that the issue is Donald Trump’s willingness to strictly enforce immigration law, perhaps the issue could be better viewed as the foreseeable result of years of lax enforcement of laws, ignored by fiat rather than due to changes in legislation or practices at the executive level.

Whatever the case, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security both suggested that they are already looking to amend policies and practices, and to do it the right way, rather than by simply ignoring existing regulations.