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Immigration Law

Only a Handful of DACAs Will Benefit from MAVNI Expansion

"This week’s announcement that young undocumented immigrants can now enlist in the military may benefit only a handful of DREAMers.  Margaret Stock, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and former professor at West Point, said the Defense Department’s announcement is “basically a bait and switch.”  “They’ll be lucky if they get maybe a dozen people,” said Stock, who helped to develop the program back in 2008.  The program, called Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI), allows the military to recruit immigrants who have unique medical or language skills.  On Thursday, the Defense Department quietly announced that recruiters can now enlist those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.  But the entire program is capped at 1,500 participants per year, and the languages and skills required are so specific they will almost certainly eliminate the vast majority of DREAMers, according to Stock.  That’s because Spanish is not one of the languages accepted under the new policy, nor is basic health-care training.  An Urdu-speaking thoracic surgeon would be eligible, but few DACA recipients fit that mold, Stock said.  Furthermore, she claims, army recruiters have not been adequately trained on how to handle DACA applicants.  Stock says the annual quota could be filled by the time that training is given." - Emily DeRuy, Sept. 26, 2014.