US Army Suspends Immigrant Recruit Discharges

The US Army has ended the practice of discharging immigrant recruits who choose to enlist to become eligible for US citizenship, for the moment at least. On Wednesday, the Associated Press received a memo dated 20 July, telling high-ranking officers in the Army to immediately stop the processing of discharges of immigrants who choose to enlist in the special immigrant program.

Marshall Williams, the Manpower and Reserve Affairs’ Acting Secretary for the US Army signed the memo. The exact number of recruits affected by the action is yet unclear, and the Pentagon gave no response to requests for comments. The disclosure comes a month after another report from the Associated Press, which revealed that dozens of immigrants who had enlisted in the US Army had seen their contracts canceled, or had been discharged.

Many of the immigrants discharged say they received no explanation for the move. Others say that the Army had declared them to be security risks due to a lack of background checks by the Department of Defense, or because they had overseas relatives.

In early July, the Pentagon claimed that background checks were still being carried out and that there had been no specific change in policy, but last week, attorneys tried to bring a class action lawsuit to protect recruits and reservists. Immigration attorney, Margaret Stock, said that the memo was an admission that hundreds of soldiers were improperly discharged.