MAVNI, the True “Dreamers”

Tobias J Song 


On February 17, 2017, the Army Times revealed the recruiting plan of the United States Army, it says that the Army will offer a two-year contract and generous bonuses up to $40,000 to meet the recruiting goal of this year. According to USAREC (United States Army Recruiting Command), the Army now needs to add 16,000 more soldiers to its active-duty ranks by Sept. 30. The growth, which is outlined in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Bill, also requires the Army to retain 9,000 more soldiers than it originally planned. Yes, this is the cold reality that the U.S. Army is facing currently. Also, it is sad, but, again.

After President Bush declared war on Terrorism after the horrendous attack on September 11, 2001, many young people have avoided enlisting the military because of the fatalities that the United States Military forces are experiencing in many operations. There were still many brave individuals who deserved honorable decorations, but the Army could not appeal enough for the potential enlistees due to various reasons. As a reserve army soldier, I do not want to underestimate how valuable the U.S. Army is for the citizens of the United States who were born in this country. sorrowfullythe military is just a last resort to young adults that don’t know what to do with their lives at that point in their life. Nevertheless, the most unbearable part is that the Army was still undergoing the shortage of the recruiting pool.

Whatever the reasons were, the Army needed to find out the way out to meet the required number of the enlistees, one of the projects they developed was MAVNI (Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest) Program. The program was designed to recruit the foreign nationals who have resided in the United States under the lawful status over two years without the absences of 90 days consecutively. The purpose of the program was recruiting people who could speak various languages that Army needed, and hiring foreign national health care professionals. Those medical specialists were called AMEDD MAVNI. As compensation, the Army gave the chance to become a citizen directly from the foreign national mostly in the Basic Training (BCT) locations. It immediately resonated in the communities of the legal immigrants, and many of young immigrants chose to serve the Country they love although they were not born here.

In 2008, when the program started, it was a one-year pilot program. Following the success of the pilot, the program was renewed. As of December 2014, the program has been extended until 2016, and the enlistments are authorized for both active-duty and reserve assignments, but not in the National Guard. Also, an announcement from the Pentagon in October 2014 declared that certain people belonging to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) category could become eligible for the MAVNI program. It was controversial to allow the immigrants who had undocumented backgrounds to enlist the Army, and many of Republican lawmakers blamed this decision. Eventually, DACA immigrants are approved to join the Army through MAVNI program from 2014, and they also became the useful components of the U.S. military power.


Now, if it is okay with you, talk to a random person on the street, on the campus, in the cafe and ask, “Were you aware that there are soldiers who were not born here, and did not even have the permanent residency?”, most of their answers would be like “I was not aware of that.” In my personal experience,  I met an old man in Binghamton, NY, and he did not admit that I was a soldier although I was wearing the uniform for the monthly drill maybe because I have an Asian appearance or because of my accent which I highly doubt.

While so-called liberals are focusing on the deportation of the illegal immigrants and shed tears off for the temporary ban to protect the country, there are soldiers who sacrifice their 20’s or 30’s for living in this country ‘legally’, for showing their love for the country they love, and for protecting the people in the country they adore. MAVNI Soldiers should be the immigrants who deserve the attention of the mainstream media, and they should be the most decorated immigrants because they are indeed bearing the threats of the hostilities from many other countries which stand against the United States.

Also, enlistees who signed the contracts after 2015 are suffering from the immigration purgatory due to the increased security clearance requirements. While they are waiting for their shipping date to BCT, they fell out of the status frequently because they believed their original shipping dates would not be delayed. Additionally, there was a moment that potential enlistees who fell out of the status could be still shipped to the BCT locations. They just believed the governmental agencies. However, some suspicious characters have been uncovered from the handful of the MAVNI enlistees during the security check, and the Department of Defense (DOD) had nothing but increasing security clearance level. It required more time than the previous cases, and roughly 4,000 enlistees are still not shipped. Moreover, DOD ceased the MAVNI recruiting program until the moment the security clearance backlog is solved.

D.C. and mainstream media are still ignoring the MAVNI enlistees who endeavor to serve this country. Many medias have named some portion of the undocumented immigrants who are qualified as DACA or DAPA as DREAMers by taking after the name of the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act which came into effect in 2012. However, the MAVNI enlistees, the real dreamers, are here, standing silently. These are silent soldiers who dream about their new homes, and who pay for the country that they are willing to live. They are here, and it may be the time that we need to give some decorations for them.



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