Army Reservists are suing the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security after they joined a program to give them a fast track to citizenship through military service, said a report in the McClatchy DC Bureau.
Their citizenship applications have been stalled, leaving about 1,000 non-citizen recruits —who are enlisted in U.S. military — at risk of deportation, according to the lawsuit filed by 10 Army reservists.
“Each plaintiff-soldier has kept his/her end of the bargain” by enlisting in the U.S. military, the lawsuit states. Their attorneys say they are ”suffering irreparable harm” and face uncertainty and financial strain, according to the news report.
The 10 reservists joined the military through the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, or MAVNI, program, which was put on hold last fall amid security concerns about vetting recruits.
The Pentagon requested DHS stop processing applications of soldiers currently serving while the government does more in-depth background checks, and may terminate the program, leaving about 1,000 recruits who are not yet citizens at risk for deportation, the report said.
“Are they making up new rules there at DoD? I’ve never heard of decertifying someone who is eligible through the Reserves, it is outrageous,” Margaret Stock, a retired Army officer and lawyer, said in the McClatchy report. “They’ve naturalized thousands of reservists and all of a sudden DoD noticed it and they’re going to revoke some of them?”
The Pentagon declined to comment because of the pending litigation, and DHS officials did not respond to requests for comment, the report said.
The lawsuit was originally filed in May, and a D.C. federal judge ordered the lawsuit be refiled to include further legal claims. The reservists will have their next hearing in the case on Aug. 23, according to the report.
A Pentagon plan to cancel the contracts of foreign-born recruits could leave 1,000 at risk of deportation.