The U.S. Army quietly discharged 502 immigrant recruits between July 2017 and July 2018, preventing them from obtaining the citizenship they were promised when they enlisted, reports The Asssociated Press.
The enlistees were part of the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI), a recruiting program which allows legal noncitizens to join the military in exchange for an expedited path to citizenship. The program was started in 2008 to fill an urgent need for immigrants with medical and language skills.
The recruiting program was put on hold in 2016 amid concerns that recruits were not being screened sufficiently, and the Army began booting out those enlistees last year.
The Defense Department says they have recruited more than 10,000 immigrants through MAVNI since 2009.
“There are no individuals being released from their contracts or separated from the military due to their immigration status,” Pentagon spokeswoman Maj. Carla Gleason told The Hill on Friday.
After their discharge, many of the recruits now say they were deliberately targeted for their immigration status.
Some recruits say the Army’s reasons for their discharge—which include refusing to enlist and failing security clearances—were not accurate or fair.
Of the discharged immigrants, more than 100 were told their entry-level performance and conduct was subpar and 48 were dismissed because of an adverse security screening. Some were dismissed for reasons ranging from encounters with police and personal problems.
Read the AP’s full report here.