Bennet Files Amendment to Keep Non-Citizen Military Personnel from Discharge Due to Immigration Status

Washington, D. C. - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet cosponsored an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to retain military personnel in the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program until their background screenings are completed. Because of a backlog in the screening process, it is estimated that between 1,000 and 1,800 MAVNI recruits have lost their legal immigration status while awaiting their results.

"The men and women serving in our military through the MAVNI program are willing to risk their lives in defense of our country," Bennet said. "We cannot allow bureaucracy to threaten these servicemembers' immigration status-that would be a disservice to the commitment and patriotism they have displayed in choosing to serve in our Armed Forces."

The MAVNI program allows immigrants with skills deemed vital to the national interest to enlist in the Armed Forces. More than 800 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients with these critical skills have joined the military through MAVNI.

The amendment requires MAVNI recruits to remain in the Armed Forces until the completion of background checks and security screenings, regardless of how long the screenings take. Under current law, recruits are automatically separated from the Armed Forces at 730 days if they have not yet completed basic training-which no MAVNI recruit can do until they pass the extensive security screening.

Cosponsors include U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Mark Warner (D-VA).