The U.S. Army has reportedly begun quietly discharging immigrant recruits by giving them an “uncharacterized discharge” that prevents them from obtaining the citizenship they were promised when they enlisted and placing those member’s immigration status at risk, according to a bombshell report by The Associated Press.
Immigration attorneys told the AP on Thursday that they are aware of more than 40 immigrant recruits and reservists who had been discharged from their service or whose status is now threatened.
The attorneys said that many of the immigrants received an “uncharacterized discharge,” putting into question their ability to remain in the U.S.
The AP spoke to several military members who said they did not know why they were discharged. Some said the Army had told them they were labeled a “security risk” because of relatives abroad and or because their background checks were incomplete.
Spokespeople for the Pentagon and the Army told the AP that they could not comment on the discharges.
“[A]ll service members (i.e. contracted recruits, active duty, Guard and Reserve) and those with an honorable discharge are protected from deportation,” The Defense Department told the AP in a statement.
The Hill adds:
Immigrant military members can obtain citizenship if they receive an honorable discharge. The AP reported that basic training has been delayed for discharged immigrant soldiers, which means they can’t become naturalized citizens.
Recruits must have legal status in the U.S. before enlisting in the Army. About 10,000 immigrants are currently serving in the military, with most going to the Army, according to the outlet.