In keeping with its recent effort to avoid actions that might discourage House Republicans from taking up immigration legislation, the White House told the Department of Defense to delay a plan that would allow illegal aliens to serve in the military if they qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive amnesty and possess certain skills.
According to the New York Times, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel informed a number of Democratic Senators last week that he had taken initial action to allow for the enlistment of DACA recipients under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (Mavni) program. It gives legal immigrants with certain temporary visas an opportunity to enlist if they have advanced medical skills or if they speak a strategic language needed by the Defense Department, such as Arabic, Farsi, Hindi, or certain African languages. Mavni currently offers an expedited path to naturalization for its legal immigrant participants.
The Times spoke to “legal experts and immigrant leaders” who said few would qualify under the plan’s medical and language requirements. In addition, Manvi already has a backlog of applicants under its annual quota of 1,500 places.
Hagel’s letter reportedly drew a rebuke from Sen. Majority Whip Richard Durbin., D-Ill., and other Senators who want eligibility for a much broader group of illegal aliens. Illegal alien advocates also criticized the plan.
On May 31st, the White House told Hagel to delay further action on his plan until Congress adjourns for its August recess. Officials said the president did not want to take any administrative steps that might anger House Republicans during the period when they might vote on immigration legislation. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has already delayed action on his executive amnesty review.
White House domestic policy adviser Cecilia Munoz said, “These are both modest steps, neither of which we are taking at this time. We will reassess once we see what Congress does or doesn’t do….The president is convinced there is a legislative opportunity, and that gives us the best chance to fix what is broken in our immigration system. He wants to leave no stone unturned to let the House do what it should do.”
Read more in the New York Times.