An uncertain future for immigrants pushed out of military

Margaret Stock during her 2016 run for U.S. Senate as an independent.(Campaign file photo)

Immigrants who joined the military under a program granting a pathway to citizenship are being kicked out of the service, and face a precarious fate with their residency statuses now in jeopordy.

The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest,or MAVNI, was started under the George W. Bush Administration, designed to recruit non-citizens into the Armed Forces in order to address a critical shortage of healthcare jobs and fluency in languages deemed strategically important. Alaska Attorney and former independent Senate candidate Margaret Stock is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve and helped develop the MAVNI program. For months she’s been contacted by immigrants who joined the Armed Forces in the last few years, now being told they’re disqualified because of failed background checks.

“Nobody will tell them why they failed, nobody will tell them who made the decision to fail them,” Stock said in her midtown Anchorage office on Friday morning. “They’re not being offered any evidence, they’re not being given due process. And they’re just simply getting a text message, an email, a phone call, saying that the military has decided after a couple years of background checking that they don’t want to take a chance on you and you’re being kicked out.”

Attention on the changes to MAVNI roared back into headlines after an Associated Press article came out on Independence Day, and since then Stock has been fielding calls from national TV networks and newspapers. Alaska Public Media’s Zachariah Hughes spoke with her about what’s happening to immigrants in the military.

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Messages left with the Defense Department seeking comment had not been returned as of our broadcast deadline.