The White House appears to have hit the pause button – at least for a few months – with respect to the revamping of a Department of Defense program, which would allow certain young immigrants to enlist in the military. The planned initiative, Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI), would allow those immigrants who meet the following requirements to serve in the military:
- if they are doctors or have other advanced medical skills; or
- if they speak strategic languages including Arabic, Farsi, Hindi, and a number of African languages; and
- have deportation deferrals under DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals which was started by the Obama administration in 2012.
Because of the narrow, specific requirements, it is unlikely many immigrants would qualify for this program. In any event, the White House has delayed the start of the MAVNI program in an effort to give the House of Representatives an additional opportunity to pursue comprehensive immigration reform. In 2013 the Senate passed a comprehensive bill, S.B. 744 but House Speaker John Boehner has recently suggested his chamber will not take up that legislation. It is expected the President will give the House of Representatives a couple of months after the midterm primary elections wrap up before pursuing programs like MAVNI and others similar to DACA which would limit and reprioritize the deportations conducted by ICE and other agencies within the Homeland Security Department.
If the Pentagon then proceeds with the updated MAVNI program, some applicants could qualify for naturalization in a very short period of time. The current program has annual slots for 1500 immigrants. Currently, a backlog has developed. Should the revamped system be instituted, the numbers on the waiting list is likely to increase.
In the meantime, it is critical, in the event that reform does become law that the immigration attorneys in this country be prepared for the new category of cases any new law is likely to generate. Edward Shulman, Esq, founder of The Shulman Law Group, LLC is a national speaker for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, and to advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice. In the course of Mr. Shulman’s involvement with AILA, he has been dedicated to educating other immigration attorneys about the import of helping intending immigrants to navigate a new cultural system. He meticulously follows all of the developments occurring in the battle over immigration reform so that he will be prepared to effectively assist his clients obtain either citizenship or residency if a new system is enacted.