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Some undocumented immigrants allowed to serve in the Military

Last week, the Pentagon announced that it will allow unauthorized immigrants with specific skills to enter Military Accessions in the National Interest program (MAVNI) for the first time. MAVNI would be open to undocumented immigrants who are DACA approved and have medical experience or have critical language skills in Chinese, Pashto, Persian, and Arabic. DREAMer activists have been pushing the Obama Administration to allow undocumented immigrants to serve in the military. This move to expand MAVNI seems to be an attempt to appease activists. However, the move is very narrow and in reality may only apply to a few dozen DREAMers.

Dara Lind of Vox explains that many DREAMers don't have the requisite language skills and it's nearly impossible for them to have medical experience because, until very recently, medical schools did not accept unauthorized immigrants. So, in effect, this change will apply to very few DREAMers.

Furthermore, according to Lind, "military places restrictions on anyone — even a US citizen — who has any unauthorized immigrants in his or her family." Unfortunately, the vast majority of DREAMers have undocumented family members. In order to qualify for DACA, immigrants must show that they arrived in the US before they turned 16. Most came with undocumented family members and live in mixed status households. So even if DREAMers meet the stringent requirements for MAVNI, they may be excluded from the military because they have undocumented family members. The prospect of exposing undocumented relatives to the government will certainly deter many DREAMers from even applying to join the military.

So while the expansion of MAVNI to include DACA recipients is welcome, the narrowness of the move will exclude many potential applicants.


"The fatal flaw in Obama's plan to let unauthorized immigrants into the military" by Dara Lind. Vox.

"Military to allow undocumented immigrants to serve" by Andrew Tilgham. USA Today.