According to a report in the Huffington Post, the Obama administration intends to permit persons illegally in this country to join the U.S. military, thereby granting them an expedited path to citizenship. However, the White House has requested that the plan be delayed to allow time for Congress to pass immigration reform before the August recess.
"Pentagon officials have approved a policy that would allow a limited group of undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children to enlist in the military, opening up a path for them to eventually become citizens," reports the Post.
Legal immigrants to the United States are already permitted to enlist in the military, and through their military service, those immigrants received expedited naturalization as American citizens. As reported by the Huffington Post, 89,000 service members have gained citizenship through that process since September 2002.
The policy change would have an impact on young illegal immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which gives applicants authorization to stay and work in the United States for two years, with an opportunity for renewal.
In order to meet the requirements for DACA, applicants must have come to the United States before their 16th birthday. They must also have graduated from a high school or received their GED. They are ineligible if they have either a felony or "significant misdemeanor," or three or more misdemeanors, or are deemed a threat to security.
The Huffington Post notes, "The new change, under a Pentagon recruitment plan called Military Accessions Vital to National Interest [MAVNI], would allow undocumented immigrants with critical language or medical skills to enlist in the armed forces considerably limiting the number of Dreamers [named after the DREAM Act] who would be eligible."
Under the plan, immigrants who have advanced medical skills or who speak languages that are considered particularly strategic for the Defense Department, including Arabic, Farsi (the indigenous name for the Persian language), Hindi, or certain African languages, would be permitted to enlist.
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